BOSTON (CBS) – A parade of so-called character witnesses took the stand Wednesday in the Boston Marathon Bombing trial, going all the way back to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s third grade teacher, who beamed at him from the witness stand and had nothing but glowing things to say about him.
Catheryn Charner-Laird told jurors Tsarnaev, “was incredibly hard working. He cared very much for his studies… always wanted to do the right thing.”
Several more educators came forward to talk about the grade-school Tsarnaev and how loving, smart, kind, and thoughtful he was.
Teacher Becki Norris told jurors how she let an eighth grade Dzhokhar hold her 10-day-old daughter who she had brought to school.
But among Wednesday’s witnesses, still no sign of the five Tsarnaev relatives who were flown in from Russia late last week. Government prosecutors told Judge George O’Toole they are getting tired of waiting.
“The FBI is devoting 16 personnel full time to taking care of them, both guarding them as well as protecting them from the press and from others,” said Assistant United States Attorney William Weinreb. “It’s an enormous expense and distraction for the agency.”
Weinreb went on to say, “it is still our intention that they are all going back to Russia on Friday whether they have testified or not.”
The defense also called to the witness stand two paramedics.
The first, Michael Sullivan, was the man who treated Tamerlan Tsarnaev after the April 18, 2013 firefight on the streets of Watertown. Tamerlan had been shot several times and run over by his brother, but he was alive and fighting – kicking and screaming so violently, Sullivan told jurors, that EMTs couldn’t even treat him in the ambulance.
But Laura Lee, the paramedic who treated Dzhokhar moments after he was pulled from the boat in which he was hiding the next day, told jurors he was compliant, calm, and helpful. When asked if he had any allergies, Lee said Dzhokhar replied: just to cats.
The jury also read testimony from a Tsarnaev cousin who Tamerlan met up with in Russia. The cousin said Tamerlan was anxious to be a part of the jihadi movement, but seemed incredibly naive about it and about Islam in general. The cousin tried to dissuade Tamerlan, who told him, “you have convinced my head, but my heart still wants to do something.”
Months later, when that cousin, still in Russia, saw the marathon bombings on TV, he had a sinking feeling Tsarnaev could responsible.