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Suspect Admits Role in Boston Attacks; Medical Condition Upgraded to Fair

April 23, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT

JUDY WOODRUFF: New details emerged today in the investigation of two Chechen-American brothers in the Boston bombings. And as authorities worked to build their case, two more victims of the city’s week of terror were laid to rest.

Family and friends paid final respects today at funerals for MIT police officer Sean Collier and eight-year-old Martin Richard. At the same time, the medical condition of the surviving suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was upgraded to fair from serious. He’s now facing federal charges that he and his older brother, Tamerlan, planted pressure cooker bombs near the finish line for the Boston Marathon. Tamerlan later died after a shoot-out with police.

In Providence, R.I., lawyers for Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s wife, Katherine, said she had been unaware of the bombing plot.

MIRIAM WEIZENBAUM, Attorney for Katherine Tsarnaev: The reports of involvement by her husband and brother-in-law came as an absolute shock to them all.

As a mother, a sister, a daughter, a wife, Katie deeply mourns the pain and loss to innocent victims, students, law enforcement officers, families, and our community. In the aftermath of this tragedy, she, her daughter and her family are trying to come to terms with this event.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, both The Washington Post and The New York Times have reported that the younger Tsarnaev admitted his role in the attack. The Post also reported he told investigators that U.S. involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were motivating factors. Other accounts said there appeared to be no links to larger terrorist groups.

In Russia today, their mother said FBI agents talked to her about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s trip back home last year, but she told them he was no radical.

ZUBEIDAT TSARNAEVA, Mother of Suspects: What happened is a terrible thing, but I know that my kids had nothing to do with it. I know it. I’m a mother. I have — you know, I know my kids. I know my kids. I — really, my kids would never get involved into anything like that.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Back in Boston, there were mixed feelings today among people returning to homes and businesses along reopened sections of Boylston Street, the site of the bombings.

MAN: I don’t want to get in anyone’s way, you know? It’s pretty weird being back here. I don’t really know what to do.

MAN: It’s fantastic, yes. It feels like home. So, we’re ready for it to be busy again.

FEMALE: Get back to normal?

MAN: Exactly.

JUDY WOODRUFF: At the same time, the Boston Public Health Commission upped the number of people injured in the marathon bombing from 180 to 264. The new total takes into account individuals who delayed treatment for minor injuries; 51 of the victims remain hospitalized.