In a packed Boston courtroom, Rebekah Gregory took the stand. She had witnessed the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013, and the scene was still fresh in her mind. “I remember being thrown back, hoisted in the air and thrown back,” she recalled. She reached for her 5-year-old son, Noah, who was screaming, “mommy, mommy, mommy.”
Gregory’s testimony was followed by that of Karen McWatters. In even tones, she talked about the horrific day that the bomb went off near her. Her leg seriously injured, McWatters dragged herself to where her friend, Krystle Campbell, was lying on the pavement. “For some reason, I got close to her head and we put our faces together,” McWatters recalled. “Krystle said that her legs hurt. Her hand went limp in mine, and she never spoke again.”
Sydney Corcoran was just 17 when she was injured by a bomb. “I remember thinking, ‘This is it. I’m going to die. I’m not going to make it,’ ” she testified. “I felt so cold.” According to the Wall Street Journal, Corcoran’s mother lost both legs in the blast.
Wednesday was the first day of testimony in the case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is accused in the bombing that killed three people and injured 250 more. Eighteen men and women sit in the jury box. Twelve of them will decide Tsarnaev’s fate; six are alternates.
Tsarnaev, now 21, faces 30 charges in U.S. District Court. Seventeen of the charges carry the possibility of the death penalty.
The Case Against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
During his impassioned opening arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Weinreb laid out the case against Tsarnaev. According to the Boston Globe, Weinreb told jurors about Tsarnaev watching several children playing before he slipped off his backpack and walked away from them.
He pretended to be a spectator, but he had murder in his heart,” Weinreb said. “The air filled with sounds of burning sulfur and people’s screams.”
According to Weinreb, Tsarnaev left the scene and calmly went to a local Whole Foods. He bought a gallon of milk.
The prosecution is painting a picture of a radical Muslim who became obsessed with terrorism. “He had a side to him that he kept hidden, even from his closest friends,” Weinreb said. “He read terrorist writings and he listened to terrorist lectures.”
‘It Was Him’
During the defense’s opening arguments, his attorney called the bombings “misguided acts,” but insisted there were mitigating circumstances. “There’s little that we dispute,” attorney Judy Clarke told the jurors. “It was him.”
But Clarke said that Tsarnaev’s older brother – who was killed in a shootout with police – was the ringleader. “It was Tamerlan Tsarnaev who self-radicalized,” she said. “Dzhokhar followed him.”
“I will not sidestep his responsibility for his actions,” Clarke said during her opening statements. “The circumstances that bring us here today are still difficult to grasp. They are incomprehensible.”