WASHINGTON -- A federal grand jury in Boston indicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Thursday in the Boston Marathon bombings, charging he and his brother were inspired by al-Qaida propaganda and believed the blasts that killed three and injured more than 260 would avenge U.S. activities overseas.
The 30-count indictment charged the Chechen immigrant and naturalized American citizen with detonating a weapon of mass destruction resulting in deaths. It said he scrawled what amounted to a confession while hiding in a dry-docked boat before his capture in Watertown, Mass.
"I don't like killing innocent people," Tsarnaev, 19, wrote in a series of notes on the boat's inside wall and beams, according to the indictment. But, he wrote, "the U.S. Government is killing our innocent civilians... I can't stand to see such evil go unpunished.
"We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all," he wrote.
"Now I don't like killing innocent people it is forbidden in Islam but due to said (illegible) it is allowed," he wrote. "Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop."
The indictment alleged Tsarnaev and his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, designed the bombs to "shred skin, shatter bone and cause extreme pain and suffering, as well as death." Other charges included bombing a public place and malicious destruction of property. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed during police pursuit days after the bombings.
Seventeen of the 30 counts could bring a sentence of death or life in prison. Tsarnaev was also charged in state court Thursday with killing Sean Collier, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer who was shot to death as the brothers allegedly tried to steal his service weapon while attempting to flee the Boston area.
Unlike the federal government, Massachusetts does not have the death penalty, so it seemed likely the federal case would go first. "All signs point to a capital prosecution of Tsarnaev by the feds," said Richard Broughton, a former Justice Department official who teaches at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.
Tsarnaev, who was seriously wounded by police during the manhunt, did not enter a plea to the indictment. He is being housed at a federal hospital for prisoners in Devens, Mass., and is scheduled to be arraigned July 10.
His father, Anzor Tsarnaev, speaking Thursday by phone from Makhachkala, Russia, defended the two brothers. "All I can say is my sons were innocent and they were simply set up," he said. "Nothing will ever make me believe my sons could have done that ugly crime."
-- Tribune Washington Bureau