On April 17, two days after the Boston marathon bombing, there was a flurry of media activity on the case. At first the most prominent report was from John King. He has it that according to sources there was a breakthrough in the investigation from study of the video from a security camera attached to the Lord & Taylor department store.Namely, says King, the video revealed a dark-skinned male leaving a black bag in the vicinity of the second explosion.
A bit later he says he has heard that an arrest had been made. And he says there would be a briefing later in the day. However, official sources denied that there was an arrest, and no briefing was ever held. When King went back to his sources to ask what the deal was, he was told that there was “significant blowback at the leaks” and that there would be no further information.
Then the mantle passed to the putative heirs of Edward R. Murrow. Later that day CBS reported that investigators found a potential suspect talking on a cell phone in the same Lord & Taylor video, describing his clothing, and we immediately recognize him now as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The report says that he put a backpack on the ground and left the scene when the first explosion occurred.
The backpack is not further identified, although later the report will say “investigators believe the bombs were hidden in black nylon backpacks.” Dzhokhar’s backpack was in fact light colored. Further, investigators were working on identifying the man from cell phone logs.
At this point, incidentally, Murrow’s ghost meets John Miller, an ex-FBI agent and CBS News’s “senior correspondent,” who would become its point man on the case henceforth, such as through serving as the recipient of government leaks designed to prejudice the public against Tsarnaev.
In this initial location he cites the dilemma of whether or not to release a description of a suspect and thus enlisting the public’s help, but at the same time letting him know you are looking for him. At any rate, from this point on the man who left a black bag would be forgotten, and John King would even issue an abject apology a few days later for believing unreliable sources on the reported arrest in particular.
On the next day, April 18, the head of the Boston FBI office would present pictures of the Tsarnaev brothers, while claiming not to know who they were, and asking for the public’s help in finding them, while specifically admonishing us not to look at any other photos. And the case would proceed in the manner with which we are now all familiar. Except that John King was not the only reporter to speak of the man leaving a black bag.
The Associated Press also reported on April 17, as republished a few days ago by the Seattle ABC affiliate KOMO, that a suspect was seen on the Lord and Taylor video, and that the City Council President was told about it. (The text does not specifically say the bag was black, but the ABC reporter in the accompanying video.)
In principle, from the text of the article alone the AP suspect could be Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, as with the CBS report, not the man King reported. But that seems unlikely since it was filed in the early afternoon Eastern time, as was King’s report and others, while the development involving Dzhokhar was later.
Now according to one of the court motions having to do with the Special Administrative Measures imposed on Tsarnaev’s incarceration the government says that it has supplied the defense with a video showing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “planting the bomb” (i.e., leaving a backpack that the government alleges but has not proved contained a bomb), presumably the Forum Restaurant video cited in the original criminal complaint, and that is apparently all.
Why not talk about the Lord & Taylor video as well, the one that has the imprimatur of John Miller as giving more evidence that Tsarnaev left the dastardly bomb container? Could it be because that video also shows a black bag being left by another man (whether “dark-skinned” or not, leaving room for possible embellishment by King’s sources), who may or may not have been the actual bomber (perhaps still more people left packages that day, any of whom could have been the culprit), but who is prima facie just as likely a candidate?
What is really in that Lord & Taylor video?
The judge rejected a request from prosecutors to schedule Tsarnaev’s trial for next fall, saying it was too early to decide on a trial date.
Under the impossible circumstances of this case I think they are doing as much as they possible can. Obviously the restrictions are a huge burden to have to deal with on top of everything else. They’ve got so much evidence to review that it would probably stretch as long as the great wall of China and that’s still with them not having everything they have asked for. The prosecution seems to be treating everything as if the trial would be a simple formality as they obviously feel like they’ve got Jahar dead to rights. With them still refusing to provide all of the evidence that the defense is asking for it is infuriating esp when Carmen Ortiz makes a statement saying that her office has provided all of the info that they deem relevant. Its not up to them to pick and choose what to provide the defense with. They keep claiming that they have nothing to hide but then turn around and deny (or just completely ignore) another request from Jahars legal team for specific evidence. Its not like they’re just saying to the prosecution - give us everything you’ve got. They are listing specific records and documentation that they have not received and are entitled to. It seems to me that enough time has passed that the judge should compel the prosecution to provide the evidence and give them a deadline to do so (although we know deadlines don’t seem to mean shit to the office of the prosecution)
With no trial date set yet this is the time in the case where the defense should be being inundated with discovery from the prosecution instead its like pulling teeth to get anything. Jahars team has asked repeatedly for certain evidence and has been given 1 lame excuse after another as to why the prosecution can’t, or haven’t already provided the evidence. They’re basically picking and choosing what they feel like turning over and making excuses for the rest. The defense can’t have the autopsy and medical reports of those injured because they’re “too graphic” according to the prosecution. They can’t get any info re the triple murder in 2011 because its an “ongoing investigation”. If that’s true then why was it a cold case until Tamerlan was killed? Additionally if they are saying that Ibragim REALLY did confess and implicated Tamerlan in the murders, what more is there for them to investigate? They have 1 dead man accusing another dead man…what else are they claiming to be doing in this “ongoing” investigation when both parties supposedly involved are dead? Are they planning on posthumously indicting & trying them?
At first when none of Jahars team said a word to the press I wasn’t sure what to make of the situation and all the conspiracy theorists going around claiming that they were only pretending to defend Jahar because they were in on some secret government plot didn’t help much either. In researching the people he has defending him, it made me realize that these people really know what they are doing and are very good at their jobs. But this is a once in a lifetime case for all of them so I’m sure its very daunting knowing what is at stake and that the whole country, if not the world, is watching. To me it doesn’t seem like their strategy is to plead out. If Jahar was planning to fold, this ongoing battle re the SAMs restrictions would be seemingly pointless. Why would the lawyers be battling out the ability to meet with Jahar without having to get their files reviewed & claiming that they need more time with their client to work on their defense strategy when they don’t plan on even putting on a defense?
It seems their hands are really tied in alot of ways and that they’ve having to jump through 1 hoop after another just to try to accomplish the most basic of tasks. The SAM’s are not only a huge hinderence they also have his lawyers walking on eggshells for fear of inadvertently violating portions of the SAM’s that are very vague. I’m glad that the ACLU has finally decided to become involved even if the judge had their request to submit a motion on Jahar’s behalf stricken from the record.
Jahar’s lawyers also seem to be willing to make brief comments to the media now about feeling like there isn’t a level playing field and that the prosecution seems to be running the show while the judge just sits by as a spectator. They are trying to make the point with the few people who actually care about rights to see that even if you hate Jahars guts he is still entitled under the law to the same rights as any other citizen and you can’t just throw those rights out the window because of the severity of the crimes he is being charged with. As it is, when this first happened there were plenty of politicians demanding that he be treated as an enemy combatant & send to Guantanamo.
With the prosecutions withholding of evidence and the next status hearing not until mid February, I don’t see how its possible for the defense to be ready for trial come fall of next year esp if the SAMs restrictions remain in place through February, or worse, they become permanent. If the prosecution has as air tight of a case as they claim, why are they seemingly rushing this to trial? I know a year seems like a long time but with the amount of paperwork, videos, witness statements and all kinds of other records to not only sort through but to then use them to start laying the framework for a defense just seems like Ortiz intentionally wants an unprepared defense team as trial. Plus the time frame given for the estimated length of the trial seems to have grown in more recent statements since the arraignment. Originally I thought they said 90 days but after the latest court appearance I’m hearing 6 months being thrown around.
In an article discussing the various deadlines set at the last hearing I was happy to see mention of the possible filing of a motion for a change of venue. I don’t even know where would be a better place to hold such a trial but they’ve gotta get out of MA altogether. There is no way in hell they could find an impartial jury in or around Boston unless the members of the jury had all been in comas since April. I’m also curious as to how the venue change works. If the trial got moved to say…Indiana or someplace I know the defense and prosecution lawyers would remain the same but would a new federal judge from that state be appointed to take over for O’Toole? I have no clue what state would be the most unbiased and capable of reaching a just verdict using their brains not their hearts or the victims calls for vengeance as the deciding factor.
I also wonder if MA is serious about trying Jahar at the state level once the federal case has ended. With no money I’m assuming that Jahar would again be appointed a public defender but a state PD. Yikes! They’re not exactly known for their stellar legal skills
Sorry for such a long post…once I get going I can’t stop lol I hope that I answered your question :)
Great answer. What I’m really not getting is this ”The defense can’t have the autopsy and medical reports of those injured because they’re “too graphic” according to the prosecution.” This doesn’t even make sense. These are people whose jobs everyday is about death and destruction and the most heinous and violent of events and people that one can imagine so what is this now? The autopsy and medical reports are crucial because the injuries would be able to tell the location of the bomb, time and manner of death, etc. This makes me think that they have something to hide.
SIERRA SCHWARTZ: The man I knew is astronomically different than the man that is hiding from the cops today. The Jahar that I knew at the time was friendly, quiet but not in a alarming way. He was just, you know, soft-spoken but very, you know, funny, very sweet, wouldn’t harm a fly, someone that you would want to talk to.
BLOCK: You know, I was talking with one of your classmates on the phone today and she mentioned that she also had a class with Jahar. And he typically would wear a baseball cap backwards.
SCHWARTZ: Yes, yes. That was his thing.
BLOCK: Which is, as we know now, what the suspect of the marathon bombings was doing.
SCHWARTZ: Exactly. He’d wear it backwards and, you know, a pair of gray sweatpants. It’s weird. I can almost think of what he would wear. It’s very bizarre to see his face all over the news, wanted by the FBI. He was just, you know, just a normal, everyday person. And it’s just crazy how people can change so quickly.
BLOCK: What kinds of kids did he hang out with mostly in high school?
SCHWARTZ: He hung out with, you know, the well-liked kids. He - I saw him as a floater. He - you know, he had friends in different friendship circles. He was never an outcast, never ever made fun of. He was always a friend to many, I guess, at the time he was.
BLOCK: What was the class that you had together?
SCHWARTZ: I had introduction to acting with him. So that’s how I got to know him. I’m sure if it had been a bigger class I would not have been able to have as good of a description. But since I had a small class, it’s much easier.
BLOCK: When you saw the images that were released by the FBI last night…
BLOCK: …did you know right away? Did you recognize Jahar?
SCHWARTZ: At the time, when I first saw the FBI images, there was rumor that the man - a wrong rumor, incorrect - that the man in the white cap, who is Jahar, was the missing student from Brown University.
BLOCK: We should explain, there’s a student who’s been missing for, I think, a little over a month…
BLOCK: …or part of a month.
SCHWARTZ: Yes, ma’am.
BLOCK: And there was some speculation that this might have been that student.
SCHWARTZ: Yes. So we had all assumed that it was him. We didn’t put two and two together. But last night when I saw his picture I was like, oh - I was thinking in the back of my head - oh, he looks just like Jahar. That’s so weird. Like, what a coincidence.
BLOCK: And when did you put it together that actually this was your classmate?
SCHWARTZ: This morning when I woke up. I woke up around 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m. and I had a bunch of texts from my friends saying, Sierra, it’s Jahar. It was actually Jahar. I didn’t think it was him but it is. And we just all cried together. We mourned - for the people whose lives were lost; for someone that we thought was such an, you know, innocent, kind person that had - could have possibly done something so horrendous and unspeakable. It’s heartbreaking. It really is. It’s hard to imagine or even comprehend.
BLOCK: You were saying you were all mourning the people who died. And I suppose also mourning the memory of this kid you knew.
SCHWARTZ: Of course. We were in absolute shock and mourning that the person that exists now is - it’s not the person that we grew up with. It seems like he just changed in such a rapid, crazy way.
BLOCK: And you said you were part of a large group that went to prom together.
SCHWARTZ: Yes. It was a group of maybe 30, 40 people. We all had individual dates but we took our photos together. We took, you know, ate snacks and went on the party bus together.
BLOCK: So part of your brain has an image of him, I suppose, in a tuxedo.
SCHWARTZ: Yes, exactly. Part of my brain sees him as, you know, the kid in the backwards baseball cap with the gray sweatpants or, you know, in a tuxedo laughing. And another part of me sees him as, you know, a murderer, someone who committed these just horrendous acts. And slowly I’m able to put these two together and, you know, accept that it’s one person.
BLOCK: How do you come to terms with that, do you think? How do you try to explain that to yourself?
SCHWARTZ: I’ve been trying to, you know, think: people change. There’s just some things that are out of our control. I was feeling very guilty. I know a lot of us are feeling guilty, you know. Could we have known? Could we have done something? Is there any way? But I think the truth of the matter is that we just didn’t know and that something had happened and something had sparked this. But none of us knew.
BLOCK: Sierra Schwartz, thank you for coming in.
SCHWARTZ: Thank you very much.
A lawyer for one of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s college friends asked a federal judge on Tuesday to lift a court order that restricts what he can say in the friend’s own criminal case.
The attorney for Azamat Tazhayakov argued before US Magistrate Judge…