Boston bomber wanted life, brother wanted death, jurors hear

  • Reuters, Boston
  • Updated: Apr 30, 2015 01:17 IST

Lawyers seeking to spare convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev the death penalty on Wednesday presented different stories of how he and his older brother Tamerlan behaved when medics treated their wounds after being captured.

Dzhokhar was a teenager who wanted to live; Tamerlan, a radical Islamist was determined to become a martyr.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a 21-year old ethnic Chechen, was found guilty earlier this month of killing three people and injuring 264 in the April 15, 2013 attack on the world-famous race, the worst on U.S. soil since Sept. 2001.

His lawyers contend he should be spared capital punishment because he was a pawn in a scheme led by Tamerlan, 26, who was killed days later in a shootout with police.

Michael Sullivan, a paramedic in an ambulance with Tamerlan, told jurors that he tried to leap from the stretcher, yelled, and squirmed in an effort to stop emergency personnel from giving him intravenous fluids.

"Whenever we were hands on, he got combative," Sullivan testified, adding that medics in the ambulance were unable to treat him. He died from his wounds.

Defense attorneys have portrayed Tamerlan as a committed jihadist who hatched a plan to terrorize Boston in hopes of fulfilling ambitions of martyrdom.

Jurors also heard on Wednesday that Russian authorities had appealed to the FBI in 2011 to alert them if Tamerlan traveled to Russia, where they said he was angling to join terrorism cells. Despite the warning, Tamerlan made a six-month trip to the Russian region of Dagestan in 2012.

Meanwhile, defense attorneys have sought to persuade jurors that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a mostly normal kid who wouldn't have bombed the marathon, if not for his older brother. Laura Lee, a paramedic who treated Tsarnaev after his arrest testified he was compliant as she treated him during a seven-minute ambulance ride. When asked about any allergies, he told her he was allergic to cats, she testified.

Prosecutors have painted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an equal partner to his brother in the bombing, citing al Qaeda propaganda found on his computer and a note he wrote that appeared to cast the attack as retribution for U.S. military campaigns in Muslim lands.

Martin Richard, 8, Chinese exchange student Lu Lingzi, 23, and restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29, died in the bombing. The Tsarnaev brothers shot dead Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier three days later.

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