Jurors in Boston bombing trial see bullet-riddled boat – USA TODAY
BOSTON — Jurors in the Boston Marathon bombing trial got a first-hand look Monday morning at the bullet-riddled, blood-stained boat where defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hid until his arrest at the climax of a four-day manhunt in April 2013.
Jurors saw the boat on a flatbed at an off-site, undisclosed location in South Boston. Defense attorneys had asked that jurors be allowed to see the entire boat, not just panels or photos of writings Tsarnaev made while hiding in it.
The boat had at least 108 bullet holes in it, according to a pool report, as well as faded blood stains. Jurors paid close attention while Tsarnaev, seated under a canopy tent, looked on.
Jurors last week saw photos of a note Tsarnaev scrawled on the boat’s hull. His lawyers want the jury to see the note in context. Prosecutors call the message, which decries the suffering of innocent Muslims at the hands of the U.S. government, Tsarnaev’s “manifesto.”
When the trial reconvened Monday in the courtroom, first on the witness stand was Watertown, Mass., police officer Joseph Reynolds, who testified that before he began his regular patrol on the night of April 18, 2013, his supervisor briefed him to be extra vigilant because an MIT campus security officer had been killed just three or four miles away.
While patrolling at 12:38 a.m., on April 19, he got word to be on the lookout for a carjacked Mercedes SUV. He saw a vehicle that matched the description and had a matching plate number.
“He was driving slow, very suspicious,” Reynolds said. “We locked eyes.”
Moments later, the SUV stopped. Tamerlan Tsarnaev got out and moved toward the cruiser, pulling a gun and firing on Reynolds. He took cover under the dashboard and threw his Ford Escape into reverse.
For the next eight minutes, a ferocious battle ensued. Reynolds used his driver’s door for cover and fired on Tamerlan, who took cover and kept firing from behind the Mercedes door.
“It was nonstop,” Reynolds said. He called for backup and sought cover in a yard behind a tree with another officer.
“We continued the gunfight with the two suspects,” Reynolds said. “I could see two men. I could see muzzle flashes, a lighter being lit and what looked like a wick burning.”
It was the first of four pipe bombs that the defendants would toss in their direction. Three exploded; one was a dud.
The officer taking cover with Reynolds, Sgt. John MacLellan, also took the stand on Monday. He said the first bomb wasn’t too impressive, resembling an M-80 firecracker. But then came more power, as both officers recalled.
“I saw a larger type bomb being thrown at us — a cylinder, like a big cooking pot, a big pan,” Reynolds said. Prosecutors called it a pressure cooker bomb, similar to the ones used near the Marathon finish line.
“It was incredible,” MacLellan said. “It was horrendous. A lot of debris — I thought shingles were coming off houses… A lot of smoke, car alarms, people screaming.”
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following the shootout. Dzhokhar was captured hiding inside the boat that night.
Civilian witnesses were expected to testify as well — including two who lived on Laurel Street in Watertown, where the shootout took place. The boat’s owner, who found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hiding under a cover, is also expected to testify.
Tsarnaev’s defense team has acknowledged that he was involved in the April 15, 2013, twin bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260 at the marathon finish line. But they argue that their client, who was 19 at the time, played a lesser role than his late brother, who they insist was the mastermind behind the plot.
Now 21, Tsarnaev is charged in a 30-count indictment, including 17 counts that could carry the death penalty if he is convicted.