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Family Members Recall Tsarnaev As Loving Boy

BOSTON (CBS) - Five women who hadn't laid eyes on convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev since he was eight-years-old took the stand just steps from him Monday in federal court. They traveled to Massachusetts from Russia to testify on his behalf.

His cousins and aunts were each brought to tears at least once during their testimony. One aunt, Patimat Suleimanova, was so distraught that she had to leave the courtroom just as she started testifying. She was never called back to the stand.

Through a translator, Dzhokhar's cousins told the jury how the boy they knew 13 years ago - was incredibly kind. They referred to him as a brother.

Raisat Suleimanova told the jury, "I came for the sake of my brother, whom I love very much. I have no right not to come here... I categorically reject what he did. It's a great tragedy, of course."

But she was interrupted by a government objection before she could say any more.

Raisat Suleimanova
Raisat Suleimanova (left) in court, May 4, 2015. (Sketch credit: Jane Rosenberg)

That witness' sister, Dzhokhar's other cousin, Naida Suleimanova testified that as a little boy, Dzhokhar would cry watching Disney's "The Lion King" during the part when Simba's father was killed. She testified that the family was struck by Dzhokhar's depth of emotion.

But under cross examination, Bill Weinreb asked her how it was possible that Dzhokhar was moved by the death of a cartoon character, but remains indifferent to the death and injuries he caused at the marathon.

But he, too, was stopped before he could finish his question, thanks to a defense objection.

The women also testified about dramatic changes in Zubeidat Tsarnaev, Dzhokhar's mother. They described how she left Russia carefree and happy, only to return a few years later gloomy and intensely religious - and wearing a headscarf like no other women in the family.

Naida Suleimanova testified: "My personal opinion? I'm a little scared of people who are completely covered. Many become extremist Islamists."

Tsarnaev family
Vehicles carrying Tsarnaev family members at Logan Airport (WBZ-TV)

But the women broke little new ground, re-explaining that in their culture, an older brother, like Tamerlan, can have tremendous authority over his family.

Then, just before lunch, came a show of emotion from Tsarnaev.

As he was led our of court, and some of his family stayed behind, crying, he blew them a kiss and returned to his holding cell.

Monday night, the Tsarnaev relatives flew back home to Russia.


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