Tsarnaev wrote about Boston Marathon killings while hidden in boat

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    This was an eventful week in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is charged with the Boston Marathon bombings of 2013. He's facing 30 federal charges, 17 of which carry the death penalty.

    Hari Sreenivasan in our New York studios has an update.


    The week started off with testimony from victims and their families. It also included revelations for the first time of a full message that a wounded Tsarnaev scrawled on a bullet-riddled boat just before he was caught by a manhunt. And the trial showed off new surveillance video from the day of the attacks on Boylston Street.

    Emily Rooney of WGBH-Boston has been covering the trial, joins me again tonight.

    Is started out with some emotional testimony this week. Who did you hear from?


    We did, Hari.

    The person we heard from that really stuck out in everybody's mind was a young woman named Jessica Kensky. She came into court wearing a skirt. You could see two stumps coming out from underneath the skirt. It's the first time that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev recognized anybody. He's been completely disengaged, doesn't look to the witness box, which is only about eight feet to his right.

    He actually looked at her, and looked down at her stumps and then moved away. But she was emotional, she was poignant, she was funny. She was — talked very powerfully about how her life and her husband's life have changed. They both lost legs. She ended up having to have her second leg removed just this month, actually just a couple of months ago, in January.


    Let's talk a little about the surveillance video that picked up a lot of steam and a lot of heat and light this week. What did we see there?


    So, after the victims were done, the FBI started their — its testimony this week.

    And it was impressive, I have to say, Hari. There was originally — the first piece of video we saw was seven minutes of stitched-together surveillance video from businesses, restaurants, iPhones, you name it, any kind of device that the FBI could discover through public and private businesses. And you could actually see the Tsarnaev brothers when they entered Boylston Street, where the marathon finish line is, all the way to the point where they dip down, drop their backpacks and then take off.

    So it was a very, very impressive run of video.


    OK. And what about the message that he scrawled inside that boat? A lot of us remember the helicopter shots, the thermal heat images. What was happening in the boat?


    You know, that was much more extensive than anybody had any knowledge of before.

    We knew he had left a note. So, what happened was, he found a pencil somehow and he wrote in pencil on the inside of this boat. The note goes on for several paragraphs. And it reads in part, at some point: "The U.S. government is killing our innocent civilians, but most of you already know that. As a Muslim, I can't stand to see such evil go unpunished."

    But it went on and on and talked about his brother being a martyr, and that he was jealous of his mother having preceded him in death, and he said that he didn't like killing innocent civilians, but, in this case, it was justified.

    So, that — now the judge has to decide, by the way, whether the entire boat will be entered as evidence, or just that panel with the note, because the defense wants to show that he was entombed in this boat for 20 hours with no food or water, and there was a cover on it. Maybe he wasn't in his right mind.


    All right, so what should we expect going into Monday?


    Monday is going to be very interesting. It will either be Monday or Tuesday, but that phantasmagorical, epic shoot-out that occurred on April 19, just four days after the marathon bombing, they have already — they have already established that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was unarmed when he was in that boat.

    So, the amount of firearms that went off, there were thousands of rounds, or hundreds anyway, of rounds of ammunition that were fired that night. In fact, one police officer was very nearly mortally wounded, lost a lot of blood. He has since recovered. But I think we will see a lot of video surveillance from police officers, from, you know, police cruiser cars, and maybe again, once again, from neighbors and people within the area who were videotaping as well.


    All right, Emily Rooney of WGBH in Boston, thanks so much.


    Thanks, Hari.

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