Defense portrays Tsarnaev’s older brother as bomb mastermind – Los Angeles Times

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the brother of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, initially planned to mount a terror attack in Russia in 2012, but instead returned to this country and “pulled his younger brother in” to a plot to detonate two pressure-cooker explosives at the finish line of the annual race.

Defense lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev opened their case in the penalty phase Monday with the new revelation, hoping to save their client from death row and convince the jury to send the 21-year-old Russian immigrant to prison with no parole.

Defense lawyer David I. Bruck told the jury of seven women and five men that they will introduce never before seen classified FBI reports about Tamerlan, who was killed in 2013 police shootout. He said they also will show other new evidence that Tamerlan was so deeply consumed in jihad propaganda that he was openly threatening to hurt others, both in a local mosque and on the streets of Boston and nearby Cambridge, Mass.

“In January 2012,” Bruck said, “Tamerlan left his family to go to Russia and ‘go into the forest’ to join radical jihadi fighters. He had been planning to wage jihad in Russia. He told people he had gone overseas to die, but returned because he said he could not find a holy war.”

Back in Boston, Bruck said, “Tamerlan had power over the Islamic Society of Boston, in Cambridge. Tamerlan interrupted Friday service, screaming and yelling at the imam in the middle of the sermon. Tamerlan got to the point where he [believed he] knew what was sure and everyone else did not. He was picking fights with people about religion. He was aggressive and extreme, and walking around dressed in flowing white robes like a Muslim sheik.”

Bruck continued, “We will describe how Tamerlan was a very tough guy, a boxer. He was suspended from high school and arrested for assaulting a fellow student, and he assaulted his girlfriend.”

Bruck said Tamerlan’s girlfriend, who later became his wife, “worked long hours while he stayed home and obsessively cruised the Internet,” viewing pictures of massacres in the Middle East and trolling for scenes of jihadi insurgents. Tamerlan, Bruck said, wanted “men who must stand up and fight. That was his world.”

Bruck urged the jurors to give Dzhokhar a life sentence because he was not the main bombing conspirator and that it as Tamerlan who purchased the bomb parts, assembled the explosives and laid out the plans to attack the marathon.

Showing the jury a photo of the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colo., Bruck told the jury that the facility is where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev belongs, not on death row.

“He will be securely locked away where he can never hurt anyone,” Bruck said. “He goes here and he’s forgotten. No more spotlight like the death penalty brings. His legal case will be over for good, and no martyrdom.”

Twitter: @RickSerranoLAT

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times