The surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect is set to make his first court appearance Wednesday where he will face charges of using weapons of mass destruction for killing three people and wounding more than 260 in the Boston Marathon Bombings.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was escorted by a Humvee filled with heavily armed law enforcement officers, and was carried in a white prisoner van as the vehicles roared into US District Court in Boston today, rushing past about a dozen people who shouted encouragement to the alleged Islamic terrorist.
Some of the supporters started chanting "Justice for Jahar'' (how his name is pronounced) and "Give him his freedom back,'' as the motorcade took Tsarnaev into the Joseph Moakley courthouse where he is scheduled to be arraigned on 30 federal charges, 17 of which could bring the death penalty.
"I've seen a lot of videos showing inconsistencies,'' said Karina Figueroa, a 35-year-old New Yorker who went to Boston to witness the arraignment. "They are framing him, I believe. I want him to be exonerated.''
Another supporter, Duke Latouf of Las Vegas, said he believes the attack was not an act of Islamic terrorism, but part of a plan by government to impose martial law on Americans. "I believe this is a false flag for martial law. I think they were Hollywood-style bombs,'' he said.
During the arraignment, Tsarnaev will not only face 30 charges, including the killing of four people, but also the families of those who died. One of them was a boy just 8 years old.
At least 264 people were wounded in the Boston Marathon bomb attacks on April 15, and they were all invited to attend. Hundreds are expected to show up and those who cannot fit into the courtroom will be allowed to watch the hearing from the overflow room.
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino is confident about getting a conviction, he told the Boston Herald on Tuesday. "We should lock him up and throw away the key," said the mayor, but prosecutors will likely go for the death penalty.
CNN legal analyst Paul Callan said that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's lawyers will struggle to prevent a death penalty case and will argue that he was under the "mesmerizing influence" of his older brother, Tamerlan, who died in a shootout with police after a wild chase through Greater Boston.
Walter Prince, a former federal prosecutor in Boston, said the biggest challenge for Tsarnaev's attorney, public defender Miriam Conrad, will be sparing him the death penalty. "I suspect that Miriam will start by trying to change his image and make him look like the normal, average, clean-cut young kid," said Prince, who is not involved in the case.
According to court papers, Tsarnaev scrawled a note on an inside wall and beams of the boat in which he hid before authorities were able to catch him.
"The U.S. Government is killing our innocent civilians," the note read, according to court papers. "We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all."
"Now I don't like killing innocent people it is forbidden in Islam but due to said it is allowed," he wrote, according to court papers. "Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop."
The indictment alleges that sometime before the bombings, Tsarnaev downloaded extremist Islamic propaganda from the Internet, including material that directed Muslims against giving their allegiance to governments that invade Muslim lands and writings by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American citizen who became a senior operative in Al Qaeda's branch in Yemen and who was killed in a 2011 drone strike.
The federal charges also include malicious destruction of property resulting in death, and conspiring to do those crimes, as well as use of a firearm during and in relation to a violent crime, and carjacking resulting in serious injury, federal prosecutors said.
Tsarnaev will likely appear to be in much better shape than the last time he was seen in public, as he assured his mother that he was getting much better in a phone conversation he was allowed to have back in May.
UPDATE: Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty Wednesday as 30 survivors and victims' relatives listened in a Boston courtroom.