Criminal Justice

Bombing suspect charged at bedside, to be tried in civilian courts


Updated: The White House on Monday put to rest speculation about how the prosecution against Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev would proceed.

The administration announced that Tsarnaev would be tried on terrorism charges under civilian law, the Associated Press reports.

A court official confirmed that Tsarnaev was charged under a sealed complaint while in his hospital bed Monday. But not long after, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Tsarnaev was being charged with using a weapon of mass destruction. Read the complaint here (PDF).

At a bedside hearing Monday, a federal magistrate advised Tsarnaev of his right to remain silent and noted that he had a lawyer from the federal public defender’s office, who was also present, along with a prosecutor, according to the Boston Globe, the Nation Now page of the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times (reg. req.). Read a transcript of the hearing here (PDF).

Court officials said Tsarnaev waived his right to a detention hearing, the Globe reported. His next hearing will take place May 30.

Tsarnaev, 19, remains under guard but hospitalized at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in serious condition, reportedly unable to speak because of a gunshot wound to the throat. He nodded affirmatively to most of the magistrate’s questions during most of Monday’s hearing, but managed to croak out a “no” when asked if he could afford a private attorney.

Over the weekend, several Republican lawmakers had urged the president to designate Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant.

However, White House spokesman Jay Carney on Monday cited successful prosecutions in U.S. courts of terrorism suspects as one reason to proceed in the civilian courts.

Tsarnaev was taken into custody Friday night after a massive weeklong manhunt after twin bombings Monday that left three dead and more than 180 wounded. Tsarnaev’s brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed during a police chase.

Last updated to add details about charges being filed and to add a link to the complaint and to include information and links to coverage about bedside hearing.

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