Newly released court documents provide gruesome details of the injuries that alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev suffered before his capture, including a skull fracture.
Dr. Stephen Ray Odom, a trauma surgeon who treated Tsarnaev at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, described the accused terrorist’s injuries during a court proceeding at the hospital in April, three days after his arrest. The transcript of his testimony was ordered unsealed Monday.
“He has multiple gunshot wounds, the most severe of which appears to have entered through the left side inside of his mouth and exited the left face, lower face,” Odom said, according to the transcript.
“This was a high-powered injury that has resulted in skull-base fracture, with injuries to the middle ear, the skull base, the lateral portion of his C1 vertebrae, with a significant soft-tissue injury, as well as injury to the pharynx, the mouth, and a small vascular injury that’s been treated,” he said.
Odom said Tsarnaev also suffered “multiple gunshot wounds to the extremities” that were treated with dressings and received dosages of the pain medication Dilaudid.
Odom said that Tsarnaev “definitely knows where he is” and would be able to answer questions.
Tsarnaev, 20, was captured April 19 in Watertown and his older brother and alleged accomplice, Tamerlan, was killed in a shoot-out with police. The massive manhunt came to an end when Tsarnaev was spotted inside a boat in the backyard of a home.
A witness described police opening fire on the boat before taking Tsarnaev into custody, and a State Police sergeant released dramatic photos last month of his capture that showed him standing up in the vessel and slumped over it, his face bloodied.
He still showed signs of his facial injuries during his arraignment last month.
Tsarnaev faces a number of charges that could bring the death penalty for his alleged role in the Marathon bombings, which killed three people and wounded more than 260. The brothers also allegedly shot and killed MIT police Officer Sean Collier.
Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty and is being held at the Federal Medical Center, Devens.
Also among the items unsealed Monday were dueling briefs that prosecutors and defense lawyers filed in May over the question of access to prison records on Tsarnaev.
His lawyers had requested that the Federal Bureau of Prisons provide them with files including Tsarnaev’s “daily activity logs, suicide watch logs, psychology data systems files, photographs, [and] commissary file,” records show.
They said the information would help them monitor Tsarnaev’s “status, medical condition, and potential treatment needs, as well as [understand] his adjustment to incarceration.”
His lawyers said in their motion that a prison official told them they had to obtain a court order for the materials, which were freely available to prosecutors upon request.
“Defense counsel object to this unrestricted, free access to information regarding their client in this potential capital prosecution,” the lawyers wrote, adding that they were asking a judge to bar prison officials from providing files on Tsarnaev without giving them a chance to object.
Prosecutors struck back in a response filing.
“The defense has cited no legal authority for that portion of its motion because there is none,” they wrote. “Congress has specifically authorized [the Bureau of Prisons] to share its records with other United States government agencies for law enforcement purposes.”
On May 20, Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler ordered prison officials to provide the defense with records on Tsarnaev upon written request, but she denied the portion of its motion asking for the opportunity to object to the release of such files to prosecutors.
Court records did not indicate Monday night which materials, if any, defense lawyers or prosecutors had obtained on Tsarnaev.
In issuing the order to unseal several documents in the case, US District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. wrote that after reviewing of the filings, “I have concluded that it is not necessary that certain matters originally filed under seal should remain sealed.” He did not elaborate on his decision.