The trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev began Wednesday, March 4. If anyone still held out any hope that we were going to get some answers, that the government would now be asked to prove their convoluted story related to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, or that Jahar’s lawyers were going to put up a fight, they were brutally disappointed like a slap in the face. I attended opening statements as well as court proceedings the following day and I am as baffled as anyone, for this is the most bizarre criminal trial anyone in history has ever seen.
The prosecution’s opening statement was as expected. It echoed what has already been leaked to the mainstream media, with a few embellishments that sound preposterous. Suddenly now they are saying Jahar’s UMass ID was found on the floor of his Honda Civic, covered in the blood of Officer Collier, the MIT cop who was killed while sitting in his car, as well as his blood covered gloves. Why would any murderer take off the victim’s gloves and then put them in his car? There was so much about the government testimony that begged to be ripped to shreds. Attorney William Weinreb drew upon public prejudice against Islam, calling the defendant a “holy warrior” whose actions were motivated by a desire to die as a martyr and reach “paradise.”
Defense attorney Judy Clarke then shocked everybody by beginning her opening statement by conceding responsibility for “a series of senseless, horribly misguided acts carried out by two brothers: 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother, 19-year-old Jahar.”
Isn’t a defense attorney’s job to cast doubt on the government’s accusations? We all expected her top priority to be defending her client’s life but saying, “He did it” in the opening statements went above and beyond most people’s expectations. Seems to be a strategy to make the trial go by as fast as possible so they can focus on the sentencing phase, with the presumption that he is assured of a conviction no matter what arguments are presented. The defense did not cross-examine a single government witness.
I searched Jahar’s face for some sign of guilt or innocence but could find no information except that he is resigned to his situation and trying to stay positive. I watched his long, bony white fingers play with a pencil, standing it up on end, holding it upright awhile with one finger at its tip. His eyes remained downcast most of the time, though he occasionally glanced at a speaker. There was one particular cop that he glared at. Chatting with his legal team, he seemed almost too content with their decision, given that neither death nor life in prison seem like particularly good options. The second day, he looked pale and subdued. There is nothing about his demeanor that seems tense, angry, or fearful. One observer described him “like a lost puppy.” Similarly, a schoolteacher and potential juror that didn’t end up getting selected, blogged:
“There was no cloud of evil that floated around him, nothing that marked him as being different from one of my doofy sophomores.” [http://cognoscenti.wbur.org/
I turn to his family for some kind of insight. Jahar’s Aunt Maret posted on weebly:
“That team of defense was forced on Dzhokhar. Dzhokhar, I know that from my brother Anzor, apparently was REFUSING those lawyers back in May-June of 2013, he told them to go away, that he did not want them (obviously, he did that since he detected that they were not there for his benefit). When the parents raised the issue before Judy Clarke and William Fick for the first time in June 2013, in Makhachkala, during their first visit, that they (the parents) would want to get a private lawyer to defend Dzhokhar, because they knew that public lawyers are government paid lawyers. Fick's (mostly, it was him pressuring this issue through) and Judy's response to that intention of the parents was "there is no way" you can do that and you will be allowed to do that. Fick said if one of the attorneys go, then the whole team goes. So, Judy Clarke and William Fick also were pushed down Dzhokhar's throat by the government. And, this team got Zubeidat somehow under their influence and that is how they worked out their defense strategy, according to which, they are painting Tamerlan as "self-radicalised" mastermind of the crimes and Dzhokhar is a follower. And there, you should see why Dzhokhar would be seeming indifferent during the court proceeding to those, who report from the courthouse. It was mentioned the other day that Dzhokhar felt nauseous on Thursday, would that be side effect, he was having as a result of drugs he was pumped in before that day's court hearing? Because I cannot image Dzhokhar feeling ok and sitting quietly, while Judy Clarke was given that murderous speech, knowing that that kid is totally innocent.”
It appears to me that both defense and prosecution agreed to steer clear of any mention of FBI involvement in the brother’s lives, in exchange for sparing Jahar’s life. Nevertheless, the judge is acting outrageously, constantly interrupting the defense and even at one point inserting his opinion that “there isn’t much evidence” that the accusations against Jahar are not true! How can that be legal? Whose job is it to censure a Federal judge?
Someone in touch with Jahar’s family shared with me several audiotapes of Jahar’s loving mother, which make clear that he comes from an intensely affectionate and deeply religious family. Whatever he did or did not do, he is not the victim of poor upbringing. “I wish you would have known how full of love we all were… how happy we all were…” Tamerlan used to kiss all of his mother’s toes, saying, “This is my paradise!” Jahar would become possessive and demand to massage her other foot insisting that he should be allowed to share in paradise!
According to his mother’s descriptions of her weekly phone calls with her son, Jahar seems to be in a highly elevated state of iman:
“Allah is with us, Allah watches us always… Everything is by Allah’s will. This is another test for us and we are thanking Allah, we never complain and we know that everything Allah does is for our benefit if not in this dunya then in the Hereafter... inshallah we all will rejoin in Paradise… Tell her (his sister Ailina who cannot visit him due to false accusations) to be patient and not to cry... whatever Allah’s decision is, that is what we are happy with.”
Interpret it how you will, this the mental state of the surviving brother. His sister Ailina gets up late at night to pray for all the Believers.
“We need to love each other like one body,” Jahar’s mother Zubeida implores us.
“Alllah azza wa jal. He knows how his brother loved him and his brother will be waiting for us inshallah by Allah’s will in Hereafter and we will be all together inshallah.”