In gripping testimony, carnage in Marathon attacks is recalled
Seven witnesses tell of moments before and after blasts
William Richard could see his young son fading before him, dying on the sidewalk at the Boston Marathon finish line. At that moment he made the painstaking decision to tend to his other two children, including his youngest, who had lost the lower part of her left leg in the second of two explosions that day nearly two years ago.
In video footage played publicly for the first time, Richard could be seen struggling to pick up his youngest child, Jane.
“When I saw Martin, I knew he wasn’t going to make it. . . . I needed to go to the ambulance, with Jane and Henry,” Richard told a federal jury on Thursday.
“I saw my son alive, barely, for the last time,” he testified, in a restrained voice. “I saw a little boy, who had been severely damaged by an explosion, and I just knew, from what I saw, there was no chance.”
Several courtroom spectators cried. At least one juror wiped tears from her eyes.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whose lawyer acknowledged this week that he set off the second bomb that day outside the Forum restaurant, looked straight ahead, away from the witness stand where Richard sat, toward video monitors displaying images of his carnage.
His lawyers hope to use his trial to portray Tsarnaev as a reluctant participant in the bombings who should be spared the death penalty. But prosecutors have called him an equal player with his older brother Tamerlan to set off the bombs that killed three people and injured more than 260.
For six hours Thursday, Richard and six other witnesses told jurors their personal accounts of helping bombing victims, or trying to help themselves, providing graphic details of the initial seconds and minutes after the bombs went off on April 15, 2013.
Frank Chioloa, a Boston police officer and a Marine veteran who served in Iraq, said he knew immediately that the explosions were bombs. He ran toward the first explosion and found a woman he later learned to be Krystle Marie Campbell. She was wearing a blue shirt and blue eye shadow.
“She was suffering, she was in pain, shock,” he told jurors. “The area was so bloody, so chaotic, so confusing, it took me back, it took me a moment to realize where I was.”
Lauren Woods, also a Boston police officer, was attending to a shoplifting call at a nearby store when she heard a loud boom, and saw people rushing away from Boylston Street. She ran toward the commotion and found a woman on the ground.
“Her whole body was shaking,” said Woods, an officer for fewer than five years. “I could see blood, flesh, bone. . . . Her eyes kept rolling, in and out.”
Someone gave her the woman’s ID card, and she knew then that the woman was Lingzi Lu, a graduate student at Boston University.
“Lingzi, stay with us, you’re doing OK, stay strong,” Woods pleaded. But paramedics told her that Lu could not be saved. They brought a white sheet to cover her body.
“She’s part of the crime scene now,” Woods was told. She denied an order to leave the body alone when the scene was evacuated. Woods stood by the body.
She later met Lu’s parents and told them, “She wasn’t alone when she died.”
Jeff Bauman, the man in a widely seen photograph being pushed in a wheelchair by “the man in the Cowboy hat,” Carlos Arredondo, approached the witness stand Thursday in shorts. Bauman lost both legs in the bombing, and now has prosthetics and mechanical knees, and told jurors it is difficult to walk wearing long pants.
He also told jurors of the moments before and after the first bomb went off, outside Marathon Sports on Boylston Street. He recalled seeing a man — now identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev — behind him, in a big jacket with a hood, wearing a hat and aviator-like sunglasses, and behaving as though he did not belong there. He looked down to see that the suspicious man had left his black backpack behind him.
“Seconds later, I saw a flash, heard 3 or 4 pops, and I was on the ground,” Bauman testified, as the courtroom went silent. “I looked down, and I could see my legs, and it was just complete carnage.”
He recalled saying, “This is messed up, this is messed up . . . this is how it’s going to end.”
Bauman, who later wrote a book about his ordeal, “Stronger,” said he gave his account to the FBI, and was in the hospital when he saw a picture of Tamerlan Tsarnaev days later on television, identifying him as a bombing suspect.
“I saw him, I know what happened, I saw him, I know what happened,” he recalled saying. “That’s the kid I saw, that’s him.”
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed four days later during a violent confrontation with police in Watertown, when he and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were trying to flee the area. The brothers also shot and killed Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier and tried to take his gun hours before the confrontation in Watertown.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces 30 charges, 17 of which carry the possibility of the death penalty. The same jury that decides whether he is guilty will also have to decide in a separate phase of the trial whether he should be sentenced to death.
Tsarnaev has admitted through his lawyers that he took part in the attack, but they have sought to portray him as an unwilling participant who was coerced into taking part in the attacks by a dominating older brother, who had grown extreme in his religious views.
“The evidence will show that Tamerlan planned and orchestrated and enlisted his brother into these series of horrific acts,” one of his lawyers, Judy Clarke, told jurors in opening statements Wednesday. “You will hear evidence of the kind of influence that this older brother had.”
But Assistant US Attorney William Weinreb called Tsarnaev an equal partner, who waited four minutes before dropping his backpack in front of the Forum restaurant, near a group of children, including Martin Richard.
William Richard told jurors that he looked to his left when the first bomb went off on Boylston Street.
“Time slowed down, and I recall thinking, ‘OK, we should probably go,’ ” he told jurors.
Following the reaction of others, he thought of directing his family into the street, away from the sidewalk, where it appeared the first bomb had detonated. But then he was thrown into the air by the second blast.
He searched for Jane, who was on the ground. His wife, Denise, was hovering over Martin, as were others who were trying to help.
His oldest son, Henry, 11 years old at the time, asked him, “Is this really happening?” He told him it was. They needed to find Jane.
Jane lost her left leg under the knee in the bombings, it was amputated when she was six, and she suffered burns and other wounds. Henry suffered similar burns and wounds. Denise lost sight in one eye.
“She told me that Martin was dead. I told her, ‘I know,’ ” Richard testified.
The father said his injuries were the least severe — he was wounded by shrapnel and his ear drums were perforated.
“But I can still hear you,” he told Assistant US Attorney Nadine Pellegrini. “I can still hear music. I can still hear the beautiful voices of my family.”