Boston Marathon bombing suspect formally charged in hospital room
Written by Your 5News Team
Last updated on April 22, 2013 @ 7:15PM
Created on April 22, 2013 @ 3:43PM
Photo: CBS News
(CBS NEWS) Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged by federal prosecutors in his hospital room Monday with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill — a crime that carries a possible death sentence.
A magistrate judge went to the hospital to conduct the initial appearance, an official at the Federal Courthouse in Boston confirmed to CBS News.
Officials have said Tsarnaev, 19, and his older brother set off the twin explosions at last week's race that killed three people and wounded more than 180. His brother, Tamerlan, 26, died Friday after a fierce gunbattle with police.
Tsarnaev was listed in serious but stable condition at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, unable to speak because of a gunshot wound to the throat.
However, Tsarnaev is conscious and responding in writing to authorities, CBS News correspondent Bob Orr reported. Officials did not reveal further details on what they are asking, or what his responses are.
The charges represented a decision by the Obama administration to prosecute him in the federal court system instead of trying him as an enemy combatant in front of a military tribunal. Under the military system, defendants are not afforded some of the usual U.S. constitutional protections.
Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen from Russia who has lived in the United States for about a decade, is a naturalized U.S. citizen, and under U.S. law, American citizens cannot be tried by military tribunals, White House spokesman Jay Carney said. Carney said that since the Sept. 11 attacks, the federal court system has been used to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists.
Tsarnaev was charged with using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against persons and property, resulting in death.
He is also likely to face state charges in connection with the shooting death of an MIT police officer.
It was not clear whether Tsarnaev was shot by police or inflicted the wound himself. After an intense all-day manhunt that brought the Boston area to a near-standstill, he was captured Friday night, wounded and bloody, after he was discovered hiding in a tarp-covered boat in a Watertown backyard.
Meanwhile, the FBI said in an affidavit that Dzhokhar Tsarnaevwas seen using a cellphone after placing a knapsack on the ground at an explosion site. The document did not say whether he is thought to have used the cellphone as a detonator.
The affidavit also said one of the bombers told a carjacking victim, "Did you hear about the Boston explosion? I did that."
U.S. officials said the elite interrogation team would question Tsarnaev, a Massachusetts college student, without reading him his Miranda rights, which guarantees the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.
Senior correspondent John Miller told "CBS This Morning" that investigators are focused at the moment on the "public safety exceptions" -- questioning the suspect on matters of immediate threats.
"It's basically, 'Where did you make the bombs? Are there any more explosives out there? Any more cells? Are there any more people?'" said Miller.
"And while I'm told he's being cooperative, I'm also getting the sense -- and I want to be careful of too many specifics here -- that he's not saying there's a whole second wave of plots or plotters here. Still there are places where there may be explosives and other things to find, it sounds like."
But Miller stressed that is it is still early in the investigation, and the process of questioning Tsarnaev -- who can only respond by writing - is slow. "Things could develop or change," Miller said.
American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero said the legal exception applies only when there is a continued threat to public safety and is "not an open-ended exception" to the Miranda rule.
Seven days after the bombings, Boston was bustling Monday, with runners hitting the pavement, children walking to school and enough cars clogging the streets to make the morning commute feel almost back to normal.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick asked residents to observe a moment of silence at 2:50 p.m. Monday, the time the first of the two bombs exploded near the finish line. Bells were expected to toll across the city and state after the minute-long tribute to the victims.
Also, hundreds of family and friends packed a church in Medford for the funeral of bombing victim Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant worker. A memorial service was scheduled for Monday night at Boston University for 23-year-old Lu Lingzi, a graduate student from China.
Fifty-one victims remained hospitalized Monday, three of them in critical condition.
At the Snowden International School on Newbury Street, a high school set just a block from the bombing site, jittery parents dropped off children as teachers — some of whom had run in the race — greeted each other with hugs.
Carlotta Martin of Boston said that leaving her kids at school has been the hardest part of getting back to normal.
"We're right in the middle of things," Martin said outside the school as her children, 17-year-old twins and a 15-year-old, walked in, glancing at the police barricades a few yards from the school's front door.
"I'm nervous. Hopefully, this stuff is over," she continued. "I told my daughter to text me so I know everything's OK."
The city was also beginning to reopen sections of the six-block area around the bombing site.
Investigators believe that two brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings were likely planning other attacks, based on the cache of weapons uncovered, the city's police commissioner, Ed Davis, told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday. He said authorities found an arsenal of homemade explosives after Friday's gun battle between police and the two suspects.
"We have reason to believe, based upon the evidence that was found at that scene -- the explosions, the explosive ordnance that was unexploded and the firepower that they had -- that they were going to attack other individuals," Davis said. "That's my belief at this point."
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