Who Is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan into an ethnically Chechen family and immigrated with his parents to the United States in 2002. A few days after the Boston Marathon bombings of April 15, 2013, which killed three people and injured more than 170, the FBI announced Dzhokhar and his brother, Tamerlan, as suspects in the case. That evening, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer, Sean Collier, was fatally shot, and the Tsarnaev brothers were named suspects in the incident. On April 19, 2013, Tamerlan was fatally shot by officers in a shootout in Watertown, Massachusetts, following a police chase. Later that day, Dzhokhar was captured in Watertown and taken to a Boston hospital to be treated for injuries. On April 22, 2013, Dzhokhar was charged with using a weapon of mass destruction. He also faces a count of malicious destruction of property resulting in death. It was announced that prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Dzhokhar.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born on July 22, 1993, in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. According to the Kyrgyzstan government's state committee for national security, Dzhokhar moved with his family — including parents Anzor and Zubeidat, older brother Tamerlan, and two sisters — to the Republic of Dagestan when he was about 8 years old.
According to Anzor and Zubeidat, Dzhokhar and his parents immigrated to the United States in 2002, settling near Boston, Massachusetts. (Dzhokhar's older brother, Tamerlan, and two sisters reportedly stayed behind, living with an aunt and uncle Kazakhstan before moving to the United States in 2003.)
Boston Marathon Bombings
On April 15, 2013, two explosions went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon—one approximately four hours after the start of the race, and the other just seconds later — killing three people and injuring more than 170.
Three days later, the FBI announced that Dzhokhar, a naturalized U.S. citizen, and his older brother, Tamerlan, were suspects in the case, and released photos and videos of the brothers. That evening, police were called to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus, where a 26-year-old university police officer, Sean Collier, had been fatally shot. Media reports covering the incident stated that investigators believed the Tsarnaev brothers were responsible for shooting Collier.
The brothers then reportedly carjacked a vehicle and fled to Watertown, Massachusetts, where a gunfight ensued following a police chase in the early hours of April 19, 2013. Tamerlan was shot and killed by police in the shootout. Later that day, Dzhokhar was captured after reportedly hiding in a boat in the yard of a private property in Watertown. After reportedly being shot multiple times by police, he was taken to a Boston hospital to be treated for injuries, including a neck wound that some investigators believe was self-inflicted.
Charges and Trial
On April 22, 2013, 19-year-old Dzhokhar was charged with using a weapon of mass destruction in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings. Shortly thereafter, the White House announced that Dzhokhar would not be tried as an enemy combatant, but as a U.S. citizen and that he would be tried in a civilian court. He made his initial court appearance, which was conducted by a federal magistrate judge, in his hospital room at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
In May 2013, it was reported that investigators had discovered a note inscribed by Dzhokhar in the boat he'd been hiding in prior to his arrest in Watertown. According to reports, in the note, Dzhokhar takes responsibility for the Boston Marathon bombings, calling the attacks retribution for the United States' military action against innocent Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq. An excerpt from the note reads: "When you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims." Dzhokhar also wrote that he didn't mourn the death of his brother, Tamerlan, who he deemed a martyr in paradise. The note is expected to be used as evidence in Tsarnaev's trial.
In the following month, Dzhokhar was indicted on 30 charges, including several counts of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. These charges were determined by a federal grand jury. He also faces state criminal charges, including murder, in Massachusetts.
On July 10, 2013, Dzhokhar pleaded not guilty to the 30 federal charges during an arraignment hearing in a Boston federal courtroom. Many of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, as well as Dzhokhar's two sisters, were present in the courtroom as he pleaded his innocence during the proceeding.
On January 30, 2014, it was announced that prosecutors would be seeking the death penalty for Dzhokhar. With 17 of the 30 federal charges against Dzhokhar being eligible for the death penalty, the call for his execution came as no surprise. Although Massachusetts abolished the death penalty in 1984, prosecutors pursued the death penalty for Dzhokhar on a federal level — he is only the third person to have the death penalty be passed down on a federal level. In June 2015, a jury sentenced Dzhokhar to death for his role in the Boston Marathon bombing.
In July 2020, Dzhokhar's death sentence ruling was overturned, citing that George A. O'Toole, the judge that oversaw the 2014 trial, “did not meet the standard” of fairness.
'Rolling Stone' Cover
In July 2013, it was revealed that Dzhokhar's photo would be used for the cover of the August 2013 issue of Rolling Stone magazine. The controversial cover features a close-up of Dzhokhar in what is arguably considered a glamour shot, with the bold text "THE BOMBER" written underneath. The use of the cover photo by Rolling Stone sparked outrage, with consumers threatening to boycott the August edition of the magazine. There have also been comparisons between the music magazine's decision to put Dzhokhar on the cover and their decision to feature cult leader Charles Manson on the cover of their June 1970 award-winning issue.
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