Watch CBS News

Tsarnaev Lawyers Want Jury To See Boat Where Marathon Bombing Suspect Surrendered

BOSTON (CBS/AP) -- Lawyers for the accused Boston Marathon bomber want a jury to see the boat where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev surrendered to authorities, raising the possibility on Monday that the whole vessel could be brought to the federal courthouse in Boston.

Tsarnaev was captured inside the boat on April 19, 2013 in Watertown, where he was hiding from police. He reportedly wrote a goodbye note on the walls of the boat while bleeding from gunshot wounds sustained in a shootout with officers and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

The issue was debated in court Monday after defense attorneys objected to a plan by prosecutors to bring panels of the boat into court.

The defense said it wants the entire boat brought to the courthouse, or for the jury to visit the storage facility where the boat is being kept.

The boat is movable, according to the defense.

"It's really quite striking, you can imagine Mr. Tsarnaev lying in that boat as one might lie in a crypt," one of the defense lawyers said.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev captured in Watertown. (Photo Credit: Boston Magazine)

But prosecutors said getting jurors close to the whole boat would be impractical and unsanitary.

"This is a very large boat. . . filled with dried blood and broken glass," prosecutor William Weinreb said.

Judge George O'Toole said he might have to see the boat for himself before making a decision.

Tsarnaev's lawyers also asked the judge to exclude autopsy photos of the three people killed in the bombings. More than 260 people were hurt.

"These are highly sensitive, highly disturbing images," said attorney Miriam Conrad. She said the defense will not dispute how the victims died.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Nadine Pellegrini said prosecutors have to prove that the victims died from the use of a weapon of mass destruction, which is among the charges against Tsarnaev. She said the full-body autopsy photos are necessary because they show all the wounds.

The judge did not immediately rule on the motions.

Tsarnaev's lawyers made it clear during the hearing that they will portray Tsarnaev as an adoring younger brother who was coerced by his older brother into participating in the deadly 2013 attack.

Although his lawyers had indicated they planned to argue that Dzhokhar, then 19, was influenced by Tamerlan, then 26, they used their strongest language to date to describe how they will depict the brothers' relationship and each of their roles in the attack.

Tsarnaev attorney David Bruck said prosecutors are trying to show a "completely distorted" picture of his client by asking the judge to limit the kind of evidence they can present during the initial phase of the trial, when the jury will be asked to decide whether Tsarnaev is guilty of 30 charges.

Bruck, arguing that the defense should be entitled to present evidence of Tamerlan's role in the attack, called him the "lead conspirator ... but for whom the Boston Marathon bombing would never have occurred."

Bruck said the defense should be allowed to present evidence that the motive "may well have been the defendant's domination by, love for, adoration of, submissiveness to ... his older brother."

"That is fair game," Bruck said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aloke Chakravarty argued that the defense plans to try to include mitigating evidence during the guilt phase of the trial, when that should be reserved for the second phase of the trial — known as the penalty phase — when the jury will be asked to decide Tsarnaev's punishment: life in prison or the death penalty.

Opening statements in Tsarnaev's trial are scheduled for Wednesday. The trial is expected to last three to four months.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.