Good vibes outside the Supreme Court this morning as the justices were about to hear over two hours of argument on gay marriage. The mood sobered up though as the first argument on the question of whether the constitution requires states to recognize same sex marriages got under way. The justices are evenly split with Kennedy the swing vote as usual, and Kennedy seemed troubled.
As soon as the first lawyer had finished and the Solicitor General was headed to the lectern a man with a good tan and white muttonchops stood and began to yell loudly. “The Bible teaches that you will burn in hell for eternity . . . homosexuality is an abomination,” he shouts as officers drag him from the courtroom.
A lot has and will be written about the argument, and on days like this I find it very hard to actually listen to the arguments – it’s a right-brain, left-brain thing, I guess – so I’ll just post my sketches and leave the comments to others.
The humanity of victims caring for each other in the middle of the bombing mayhem contrasted with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s complete disregard and seeming lack of compassion as he just sat there. The last witness to testify yesterday as the government concluded its death penalty case was Steven Woolfenden. Steve was in front of the Forum restaurant with his son Leo in a stroller when the second bomb went off. They were right next to the Richard family as they tried to move away from the first bomb blast. Tsarnaev brushed past Woolfenden after he dropped his bomb and hurried away.
After the blast, Woolfenden, his leg blown off and his son taken to an ambulance, saw Denise Richard bent over her dying son Martin’s eviscerated body. He put a hand on her shoulder. She turned and asked him if he was okay.
More heartbreaking testimony today, from the family of MIT officer Sean Collier and Lingzi Lu’s aunt. The jury also heard from two more victims who suffered serious injuries. One, a ballroom dancer who lost a leg, glared at Tsarnaev as she left the witness stand.
The government also introduced into evidence the video still of Tsarnaev flipping the bird that was shown to the jury during opening statement. That led to the defense getting in the entire video of Tsarnaev in the courthouse holding cell. It shows the defendant primping his hair and mugging for the camera as he first flashes two fingers in a Vee and then the now infamous single digit.
I remember thinking that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appeared very cocky at his arraignment back in July, 2013. Well, that impression was confirmed today when the prosecution in its opening displayed a photo of Tsarnaev giving the finger to the camera in his holding cell at the courthouse the day of his arraignment.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nadine Pellegrini displayed the photo of Tsarnaev along side smiling photos of his five dead victims. “This is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,” she told the jury, “unconcerned, unrepentant and unchanged. Without remorse, he remains untouched by the grief and the loss he caused.”
The testimony today was painful and heartbreaking. Here are some sketches of the witnesses.
When I was a kid I loved to draw flying machines – submarines too – just like the gyrocopter – also called autogyro or gyroplane – that Florida mailman Doug Hughes landed on the west lawn of the Capitol on Wednesday. His flight in the ultralight contraption from Gettysburg to Washington, DC to deliver 535 stamped letters to the members of congress calling for campaign finance reform has inspired tweets calling him a hero.
A slender 61-year old, Hughes appeared before magistrate judge Deborah Robinson in the U.S. Postal uniform he wore for the flight. He wore earphones in the courtroom – usually provided when an interpreter is needed – possibly because of hearing loss after flying two hours with a lawnmower motor strapped to his back. At one point he attempted to speak directly to judge Robinson, but was told to let his lawyer do the talking.
After promising to return to court on May 8, Hughes was allowed to return home to Florida where he will be on home detention.
We only see Tsarnaev from the back when seated in the courtroom, so I did these sketches from the video monitors in the overflow room.
I’ll probably do this same thing when the verdict is announced in order to capture his reaction, or lack of it.
Prosecutor Aloke Chakravarty gave a powerful closing argument today as the case against Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev goes to the jury after weeks of testimony.
The defense did the best they could, admitting that Dzhokhar planted the bomb at the marathon finish line while shifting most of the blame to his older brother, Tamerlan. But their strategy to save Dzhokhar’s life won’t fully come into play until the case moves into the death-penalty phase.
After a series of bench conferences during which, presumedly, a stipulation was hammered out, the jury was told that one of the victims of the Marathon bombing was a foreign citizen. Then the defense rested after calling just four witnesses.
A forensic computer expert testified that searches relating to the marathon, and Ruger handgun were made on Tamerlan’s Samsung computer, while most of the searches on Dzhokhar’s Vaio computer were related to social media.
An FBI fingerprint analyst, who was originally scheduled to testify for the prosecution but was instead called by the defense, said that the only prints that belonged to Dzhokhar were lifted from a plastic food container filled with explosive, while his brother Tamerlan’s prints were on a transmitter, a pressure cooker lid, a jar of nails, a caulking gun, rolls of duct tape and a soldering iron.