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Boston Bombing Suspect Arraigned on Federal Charges While Hospitalized

April 22, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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JEFFREY BROWN: The Chechen-American teenager accused in the Boston Marathon bombings now faces a possible death sentence. The filing of charges today officially moved the case into the federal courts, even as the city began returning to normal.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arraigned this morning at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, where he remained in serious condition. A short time later came word of the complaint filed by the U.S. Justice Department. It formally charged the 19-year-old with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, potentially a capital crime punishable by the death penalty, and of destruction of property by explosive device causing death.

Tsarnaev had been able, sporadically, to answer questions in writing, but a gunshot wound to the neck left him unable to speak. It was unclear if he was read his Miranda rights.

But, in Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney said he’s a naturalized U.S. citizen, so will not face a military tribunal.

JAY CARNEY, White House Spokesman: He will not be treated as an enemy combatant. We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice. Under U.S. law, U.S. citizen cannot be trialed — tried, rather, in military commissions. And it’s important to remember that since 9/11 we have used the federal court system to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists.

JEFFREY BROWN: Tsarnaev was also likely to face state charges in the shooting death of a police officer at MIT.

It all followed his dramatic capture Friday evening, when he was found hiding and wounded in a boat behind a home in the Boston suburb of Watertown. His older brother Tamerlan died hours earlier in a shoot-out with police that triggered the all-day manhunt and shut down the city.

Yesterday, on CBS, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick stood by the unprecedented measures.

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK, D-Mass.: I think people understood that we were making decisions in the face of a rapidly developing investigation and that we were making them in the best interests of people’s public safety, or the public’s safety. I think there won’t be political backlash. And, frankly, I’m not thinking about that anyhow.

JEFFREY BROWN: In Boston today, it was a time of remembrance and reflection. Bells tolled as people observed a moment of silence at 2:50 p.m., the time one week ago that twin bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Elsewhere, friends and family gathered at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church for the funeral service of 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, one of three people killed in the bombings. A memorial service for another victim, Chinese graduate student Lu Lingzi, was set this evening.

Back in Washington, President Obama also observed a moment of silence at the White House, as did the U.S. Senate. But tempers flared at a Senate hearing. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley was one of several Republicans who’ve said the bombings, allegedly by two Chechen immigrants, raised questions about immigration reform.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY, R-Iowa: I think we’re taking advantage of an opportunity when once in 25 years we deal with immigration to make sure that every base is covered.

JEFFREY BROWN: That sparked a heated exchange between Grassley and New York Democrat Chuck Schumer.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: I say that particularly those who are pointing to what happened, the terrible tragedy in Boston, as a, I would say, excuse for not doing a bill or delaying it many months and years.

CHARLES GRASSLEY: I never said that.

CHARLES SCHUMER: I didn’t say you did sir.

CHARLES GRASSLEY: I never said that.

CHARLES SCHUMER: I didn’t say you did, sir.

CHARLES GRASSLEY: I didn’t say anything about …

CHARLES SCHUMER: I don’t mean you, Mr. Grassley.

MAN: Mr. Chairman …

CHARLES SCHUMER: Those remarks were not aimed at anyone on this committee or the three witnesses. There are people out there — you have read it in the newspapers — who have said it.

JEFFREY BROWN: There were also questions about the FBI’s investigation last year of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, after he spent six months in Russia. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairing the Intelligence Committee, said senior FBI may testify tomorrow about why they didn’t pursue the matter further.

And I misspoke in that setup piece. Tsarnaev was read his Miranda rights in his hospital room today.