BOSTON (AP/CBS) – Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was formally charged Monday in the Boston Marathon bombings.
A magistrate judge went to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to conduct the initial court appearance in front of Tsarnaev, 19, who is under heavy guard in serious condition with gunshot wounds to his throat and leg. The throat wound has left him unable to speak, so he’s responding to questions in writing.
Read: The complaint (.pdf)
In a press release, the Justice Department said Tsarnaev has been charged with “using a weapon of mass destruction against persons and property at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, resulting in the death of three people and injuries to more than 200 people.”
READ: Transcript Of Hearing
“Tsarnaev is specifically charged with one count of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction (namely, an improvised explosive device or IED) against persons and property within the United States resulting in death, and one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death,” the statement read.
The court says that Tsarnaev was alert and responsive to the charges.
If convicted, Tsarnaev could face the death penalty. It’s not clear yet if Attorney general Eric Holder will purse that. Tsarnaev will be back in court on May 30 for a probable cause hearing.
Tsarnaev was captured Friday night in Watertown. The other suspect, his older brother Tamerlan, was killed in a shootout with police.
Two U.S. officials said preliminary evidence from an interrogation suggests the brothers were motivated by religion but were apparently not tied to any Islamic terrorist organizations. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation.
At the White House Monday afternoon, press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tsarnaev will not be tried as an enemy combatant, but in the U.S. criminal justice system.
Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler has been assigned to the case.
Two veteran anti-terrorism prosecutors are leading the case. Their previous work includes the high-profile trial of Tarek Mehanna in Boston.
William Weinreb and Aloke Chakravarty were both key players in the Faisal Shahzad (Times Square) case. Chakravarty was the lead prosecutor on the Mehanna case.
The Shahzad team was given the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award in 2011 for their “quick response and coordination” during the Times Square investigation.
Mehanna, a pharmacist, was convicted of providing material support to al-Qaeda, and conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country.
There was testimony during the trial that Mehanna and several co-conspirators discussed participating in violent jihad against American interests and wanted to die on the battlefield. Last year he was sentenced to 17 ½ years in prison.
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