The trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev finally got underway today with opening statements and testimony from the first witnesses.
It was such a busy day for me that I can no longer think straight so I’ll just post my sketches and let you read about it elsewhere.
Tsarnaev’s defense don’t dispute that their client planted the pressure cooker bomb but argue that he acted under the influence of his brother, Tamerlane. For that reason the defense briefly questioned only one of the government’s witnesses on cross.
After I don’t know how many weeks of jury selection in the trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber finally reached the last stage today, where each side exercised their peremptory challenges. A panel of 12 jurors and six alternates was selected and will be sworn in tomorrow before hearing opening statements and the first witnesses.
Tsarnaev appeared relaxed and in a good mood as he was greeted by his lawyers in the courtroom. Later as each side huddled to decide on their strikes Tsarnaev spent most of his time scribbling on a note pad he had on his lap.
This little sketch shows U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, far left, and others waiting for court to begin. AP’s Denise Lavoie – she’d be more recognizable if I colored in her red hair – is shown standing with someone from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Tsarnaev appeared understandably bored with voir-dire as questioning of individual jurors was repeated over and again. By day six it’s beginning to feel a bit like Groundhog Day, and may well go on till then.
Dzhokhar isn’t the only one losing interest. The networks have are now only interested in a few days of trial, so I’ll be back for opening statements, closing arguments, and perhaps a day or two of testimony.
As questioning, or voir-dire, of individual members of the jury pool gets off to a slow start I have the luxury of observing, almost at leisure, the defendant in the Boston Marathon bombing. I can’t report what I hear in the courtroom, but I can tell you what I see.
Each morning, before the judge takes the bench, Federal Public Defender Miriam Conrad has a friendly chat with Dzhokhar. I can’t see his expression, but she is smilling and he’s responding.
I hadn’t noticed it before, but Tsarnaev has a nasty looking scar running down the back of his neck from behind his left ear. Also, his upper eyelid is swollen and seems to bother him.
Tsarnaev often doodles on a legal pad as questioning of potential jurors drags on.
Individual voir dire of potential jurors in the trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev began today and is expected to go on for at least another week.
I lucked out as I was the only media allowed in the courtroom for the questioning of potential jurors (I was later joined by my fellow sketch-artist Jane Collins). The condition was that I not report what I heard, therefor I’ll just post sketches and shut up (my hearing’s not too good anyway).
After two days of just barely seeing Tsarnaev through the glare and reflections in the plate glass wall of the jury assembly hall I finally found the sweet spot. For the first time I could plainly see that his left eye is partially shut or swollen.
I’m also certain he uttered something, perhaps under his breath, as the judge mentioned the death penalty. His mouth opened as he stroked his beard and his lips moved.
The lawyers will now review the questionnaires that the prospective jurors have been filling out for the past three days. Next Thursday individual voir dire will begin, and if enough jurors are found opening arguments are expected the final week in January.
For a second day we watched through plate glass as another group of prospective jurors was instructed on the duty and privilege of service. It was a chance to concentrate on capturing some good likeness of Tsarnaev, or as best I could through the glare and reflection in the glass.
More of the same tomorrow.
Hundreds of eastern Massachusetts residents reported for jury duty his morning in the Boston Marathon bombing trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Tsarnaev entered the jury assembly hall with his lawyers. It was difficult to make out through the glare of plate glass that separated the press from the proceedings exactly what he was wearing, but it seemed to me he had on a dark collared shirt with a dark pullover and light pants. At the afternoon session he was wearing only the sweater with no shirt.
Tsarnaev appeared alert as he sat between two of his lawyers, Miriam Conrad on the left and Judy Clarke on the right.
Judge O’Toole instructed the jurors on what to expect, and introduced the lawyers and the defendant.
Two more days of the same, then in the later part of next week we should move on to individual void dire in the courtroom.
Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps pleaded guilty in a Baltimore courtroom yesterday to driving under the influence. He was stopped for speeding in the Fort McHenry tunnel about 1:40 a.m. September 30 after leaving the Horseshoe Casino. District Judge Braverman gave Phelps a one year suspended sentence that now hangs over the 29 year-old swimmer should he slip up. Phelps had a previous DUI ten years ago in Wicomico county.
Phelps’ lawyer, Steven A. Allen, told the court that the swimmer attended a 45-day in-patient treatment in Phoenix and is continuing after-treatment at a facility in Towson. “Mr. Phelps has not been treated differently because of his celebrity status.” Mr. Allen said, “He has really stood up to what has occurred, accepted responsibility and, of course, there is a level of humiliation involved,”
Phelps was accompanied in court by numerous supporters including Ray Lewis and, of course, his mom.
The last time Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appeared in court, at his arraignment in July 2013, he looked and sounded quite different. He was wearing a bright orange jumpsuit, his left hand was bandaged and his face swollen from injuries he suffered during the manhunt that followed the Boston Marathon bombing. He spoke with a Russian accent and displayed a certain arrogance or swagger, at least it appeared that way to me. Yesterday was a different story. He was dressed in a dark zip-up sweater, shirt and belted chinos. He seemed quietly interested in what was happening, speaking softly to the judge when questioned. The Russian accent was gone even though an interpreter was present just in case.
All signs point to the trial beginning with jury selection on January 5, as scheduled, though the defense is still asking for a delay. It’s sure to be a long and emotional trial.
I sketched the scene outside the courtroom before the doors opened. There was a tall woman in a long fur coat who talked incessantly with whoever would listen to her. I didn’t pay attention to what she was saying. But later, at the conclusion of the hearing as Tsarnaev was being led from the courtroom, this same woman started shouting in Russian.
It turns out she is the mother-in-law of Ibragim Todashev, who was killed by the FBI under very odd circumstances. At one time Todashev was, along with Dzhokhar’s brother Tamerlan, a suspect in a bizarre murder in the Boston suburb of Waltham. There’s a lot to the story that has yet to be explained.