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Boston Bombing Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Pleads Not Guilty

By: CBS/AP
By: CBS/AP
His arm in a cast and his face swollen, a blase-looking Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty Wednesday in the Boston Marathon bombing in a seven-minute proceeding that marked his first public appearance since his capture in mid-April.

This courtroom sketch by Christine Cornell shows Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev during his arraignment at a Boston court on Jul 10, 2013. (Credit: Christine Cornell/CBS)

His arm in a cast and his face swollen, a blase-looking Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty Wednesday in the Boston Marathon bombing in a seven-minute proceeding that marked his first public appearance since his capture in mid-April.

As victims of the bombing looked on, Tsarnaev, 19, gave a lopsided smile to his sisters upon arriving in the courtroom. He appeared to have a jaw injury and there was swelling around his left eye and cheek.

Then, after he leaned over toward a microphone and said, "Not guilty" over and over in a Russian accent, he was led out of the courtroom, making a kissing motion with his lips toward his family as he left. His sister sobbed loudly, resting her head on a woman seated next to her.

He faces 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction to kill, and could get the death penalty if prosecutors choose to pursue it.

This courtroom sketch depicts Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev during arraignment in federal court Wednesday, July 10, 2013 in Boston. The 19-year-old has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction, and could face the death penalty.

The proceedings took place in a heavily guarded courtroom packed not only with victims but with their families, police officers, members of the public and the media.

Tsarnaev looked much as he did in a photo widely circulated after his arrest, his hair curly and unkempt. He appeared nonchalant, almost bored during the hearing. The cast covered his left forearm, his hand and his fingers.

The April 15 attack killed three people and wounded more than 260. Authorities say Tsarnaev orchestrated the attack along with his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died following a shootout with police three days after the bombing.

The death penalty, CBS News senior national security analyst Juan Zarate notes, is likely to become a bargaining chip between the defense and prosecution in Tsarnaev's punishment. The case also tests a broader policy question.

"Whether or not [the U.S.] pursues the death penalty in this case -- what's the symbolism around that? What does it say about American justice? And how is it used by those around the world?" Zarate said.

Zarate also said the case provides an opportunity for the government and the FBI to gather more information about the bombings that they were not able to get before.

"This is an interesting moment," he said. "It brings the case back to the public mind, but it also is a strategic moment in the investigation itself."

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested on April 19 when he was found hiding in a boat in a suburban backyard. He was initially charged in the hospital, where he was recovering from wounds suffered in a police shootout.

Tsarnaev's two sisters, both in Muslim garb, were in court Wednesday. One was carrying a baby, the other wiped away tears with a tissue. His parents remained back in Russia.

Among the relatives of victims present in the courtroom was Peter Brown, the uncle of two men who lost their right legs in the bombings.

"The only opinion I could have, when I first saw him, is that it appeared he gave what I described as a smirk," Brown told reporters. "He never looked at us, he never turned in our direction and I sat directly behind him."

Liz Norden, the mother of the two men, said afterward: "I actually felt sick to my stomach."

MIT police officers came to the court to honor their former colleague Sean Collier, who was allegedly killed by the Tsarnaev brothers during the manhunt to find them.

"I didn't see the remorse, or the fear of the sadness that I thought I would in somebody in his position," MIT Police Chief John DiFava said after the proceedings.

Reporters and spectators began lining up for seats in the courtroom at 7:30 a.m. as a dozen Federal Protective Service officers and bomb-sniffing dogs surrounded the courthouse.

Four hours before the hearing, the defendant arrived at the courthouse in a four-vehicle motorcade that included a van, a Humvee and a state police car.

A group of about a dozen Tsarnaev supporters cheered as the motorcade arrived. The demonstrators yelled, "Justice for Jahar!" as Tsarnaev is known. One woman held a sign that said, "Free Jahar."

A group of friends who were on the high school wrestling team with Tsarnaev at Cambridge Rindge and Latin waited in line outside the courtroom for hours, hoping to get a seat.

One of them, Hank Alvarez, said Tsarnaev was calm, peaceful and apolitical in high school.

"Just knowing him, it's hard for me to face the fact that he did it," said Alvarez, 19, of Cambridge.

Another ex-teammate, Shun Tsou, 20, of Cambridge, called Tsarnaev "a silent warrior type."

"There was nothing sketchy about him," said Tsou, adding that he had not formed an opinion on Tsarnaev's guilt or innocence.

Prosecutors say Tsarnaev, a Muslim, wrote about his motivations for the bombing on the inside walls and beams of the boat where he was captured. He wrote the U.S. government was "killing our innocent civilians."

"I don't like killing innocent people," he said, but also wrote: "I can't stand to see such evil go unpunished. ... We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all."

Three people — Martin Richard, 8; Krystle Marie Campbell, 29; and Lingzi Lu, 23 — were killed by the bombs, which were improvised from pressure cookers. Authorities say the Tsarnaevs also killed Massachusetts Institute of Technology officer Sean Collier days later while they were on the run.

Numerous bombing victims had legs amputated after the two explosions, which detonated along the final stretch of the race a couple hours after the elite runners had finished.


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