Row over grisly Boston Marathon bombing trial evidence

Row over grisly Boston Marathon bombing trial evidence
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Prosecutors in the Boston Marathon bombing trial quickly conveyed the sense of fear, pain and grief caused by the 2013 attack – by letting the victims do it for them.

It was too much for the defence. Lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev complained to the judge today that the survivors’ evidence was too gruesome and should be limited in the future.

Defence lawyer David Bruck objected to the extent of evidence yesterday from three women who described their injuries in detail and what they saw on the day of the attack.


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Mr Bruck said that under the federal death penalty law, victim impact testimony was supposed to be presented during the second phase of the trial when the jury decides punishment.

Prosecutors denied that any of the survivors gave victim impact testimony and said they merely described what they saw.

Judge George O’Toole Jr agreed with prosecutors and denied the motion to limit survivors’ evidence.

The motion came a day after Tsarnaev lawyer Judy Clarke bluntly told the jury in her opening statement that her client was responsible for the attack. But she argued that he had fallen under the bad influence of his now-dead older brother, Tamerlan.

The first witness to give evidence today was a policeman who was the first officer to reach 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, one of three people killed when the twin bombs exploded at the marathon.

Officer Frank Chiola said he ran across the street to help the victims as soon as he heard the explosions. As he reached Ms Campbell and began doing chest compressions, he said, smoke came out of her mouth. He said she appeared to be in a lot of pain.

Jeff Bauman walked slowly into the courtroom using two prosthetic legs. His own were blown off after the first bomb exploded.

An image of an ashen-faced Mr Bauman being wheeled from the marathon with both legs severely injured and bloody became one of the most widely distributed photos after the attack.

Mr Bauman said he saw Tsarnaev’s brother, Tamerlan, just before the two bombs exploded.

“He was alone. He wasn’t watching the race,” Mr Bauman said. “I looked at him, and he just kind of looked down at me. I just thought it was odd.”

Mr Bauman said he later described Tamerlan Tsarnaev to the FBI. Tamerlan died in a gun battle with police days after the bombing, while his younger brother, Dzhokhar, was captured.

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