Boston Bombing Trial: Survivor Recalls Brush With Alleged Attacker – NBCNews.com
BOSTON — The Boston Marathon bombing trial picked up on its second day with searing testimony from survivors, including Jeff Bauman, a spectator who lost his lower legs in the twin blasts and had an eerie encounter with a young man he later identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the alleged attackers.
Bauman said he was at the Boylston Street finish line, waiting for his girlfriend to pass, when he bumped into a guy with a backpack trying to make his way through the crowd. “I looked at him. He looked very suspicious. He was alone,” Bauman recalled. “He wasn’t watching the race. He didn’t look like he was having fun.”
As Bauman spoke, a few feet away sat Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Tamerlan’s younger brother and alleged accomplice, who is on trial for detonating one of two pressure-cooker bombs that rocked the race’s final stretch on April 15, 2013. Three people died in the blasts, and a fourth, an MIT police officer, was shot to death during the ensuing manhunt.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stared ahead through Bauman’s testimony — just as he’d done Wednesday during hours of emotional recollections from survivors.
Bauman went on. Soon after noticing the strange man, Bauman said he saw the bag on the ground. Then, he saw a flash. He heard a series of pops. He was tossed to the ground. His ears were ringing. “It smelled like the Fourth of July,” he recalled. Then he looked at his legs. “I could see my bones and flesh sticking out,” he said.
Bauman, who has written a book about his experience, said he told himself, “This is it. This is the way it’s gonna end. I had a great life.”
Then some people came to help him, including a man in a cowboy hat. A photo of that effort became an iconic image of the bombing. As Bauman spoke, the man in the hat, Carlos Arredondo, nodded from the gallery.
In the hospital, Bauman saw a friend, and that’s how he knew he wasn’t dead. He told his friend, “I saw the kid. I know what happened.” Agents from the FBI and State Police came to his bed. He described the man he’d seen, and drew a sketch. That information was used to identify Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died four days after the attack in a shootout with police.
Bauman was the second witness to take the stand Thursday. The session began with a police officer who ran into the chaos after twin blasts detonated at the finish line.
“It sounded as if a cannon went off,” Boston Police Officer Frank Chiola said. “People running, screaming crying.”
As Chiola ran to the area of the explosion, there was a second one about 20 yards behind him. “I saw blood everywhere,” Chiola said. “I couldn’t tell who was dead or alive. It was chaos.”
Chiola recalled looking for people to help in the bloodied, panicked crowd. He applied tourniquets to several victims, including Krystle Campbell, one of those who would die.
“From the waist down, it is really tough to describe, it was complete mutilation,” Chiola said of Campbell’s injuries. He said he stayed with Campbell in the medical tent even though by then she was dead.
Thursday’s session began with a lengthy discussion, without the jury present, about how deep bombing victims should be allowed to go into the attack’s impact on their lives. David Bruck, one of Tsarnaev’s defense lawyers, argued that asking victims about their injuries and experiences after the bombing may not be admissible in the guilt phase of the trial, and may be more appropriate for the penalty phase. But Bruck stressed that he wasn’t trying to limit the survivors’ day in court.
Judge George O’Toole Jr. indicated that he was not concerned with that issue so far. The first day of the trial included hours of graphic recollections and video footage. “I think the testimony yesterday did not go out of bounds,” O’Toole said.
The jury also heard testimony Thursday from law enforcement officials who described collecting evidence from the scene. That included surveillance footage from outside the Forum restaurant, which authorities say captured Dzhokhar Tsarnaev planting one of the bombs.
Among those expected to testify later in the day are the parents of 8-year-old Martin Richard, another of the three who died.
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