Feds Ponder Seeking Death Penalty for Boston Marathon Bomber Tsarnaev

As federal prosecutors decide whether to pursue the death penalty against the Boston Marathon bomb suspect, some media sources are reporting that hospitalized Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been responding to questions in writing. But Boston Mayor Tom Menino told ABC News yesterday that because of Tsarnaev’s injuries, “we don’t know if we’ll ever be able to question the individual.”

The prosecutors could charge Tsarnaev with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill people, which would mean he would face the death penalty.

Tsarnaev is in Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, unable to speak because of a gunshot wound to his throat. But  ABC, NBC and CBS networks all report that the suspect was responding in writing to interrogation, including answering questions about possible cell members and other explosives.

“We have a million questions and those questions need to be answered,” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said, according to Reuters news agency.

More details have emerged about the manhunt and the death of the second suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and police revealed that the 19-year-old Dzhokhar may have run over his brother on purpose to kill him as he fled in an SUV on Thursday night.
Police initially said Tamerlan died of injuries from gunshots and explosions, but Watertown’s police chief, Ed Deveau, said he believes Dzhokhar mortally injured his brother just after the firefight with police.

Deveau told the Boston Globe that Dzhokhar drove over Tamerlan in the stolen SUV, dragging him on the pavement and apparently inflicting the injuries that killed him.

The police chief said the officers tackled Tamerlan after he ran out of bullets. As they began to handcuff him, the SUV came roaring at them with Dzhokhar at the wheel. The officers scattered and the SUV ran over Tamerlan.

Abandoning the vehicle, Dzhokhar fled the scene on foot, the chief said.

The attack at the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday killed a boy of 8 and two women, and injured more than 180, of whom 13 lost limbs.

MIT campus policeman Sean A. Collier was killed and another officer injured during the manhunt.

A funeral service will be held today for 29-year-old restaurant worker Krystle Campbell.

In addition to the federal death penalty, prosecutors for the state of Massachusetts, which does not have the death penalty, may file their own. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who wanted to become a brain surgeon, according to his father, will be represented by the federal public defender’s office after he is charged.

According to newspaper reports, Tamerlan Tsarnaev disrupted a mosque in Cambridge in January, when he objected to the speaker comparing the Prophet Muhammad to civil rights champion Martin Luther King Jr., because King wasn’t Muslim.

He reportedly told the speaker, “You are a kafir [unbeliever],” and said he was contaminating people’s minds and was a hypocrite.

The FBI is coming under attack in Congress for failing to follow up on Tsarnaev after its contacts with him in 2011. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina, told CNN’s State of the Nation: “The ball was dropped in one of two ways. The FBI missed a lot of things.”

Republican Peter King, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, was also critical. “This is the first case I’m aware of where the FBI has failed to stop someone,” he told Fox News Sunday, citing the cases of al-Qaida recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki; Little Rock, Ark., shooter Carlos Bledsoe; the accused Fort Hood, Texas, killer Nidal Malik; and alleged American-Pakistani terrorist David Coleman Headley.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that a hold was placed on a citizenship request by Tamerlan as a result of the FBI’s former interest in him. According to the report, officials at the Department of Homeland Security decided not to grant his application after a routine background check uncovered the 2011 interview by agents, the report said.

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said yesterday the brothers had probably been planning further attacks, judging by the many unexploded homemade bombs found at the scene of their gun battle on Friday with police. The stockpile was “as dangerous as it gets in urban policing,” Davis said.

“We have reason to believe, based upon the evidence that was found at that scene – the explosions, the explosive ordnance that was unexploded and the firepower that they had – that they were going to attack other individuals,” he told CBS.


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