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Focusing on boy’s death, US rests in Tsarnaev trial

Details of how 8-year-old died shake Tsarnaev jurors

An image presented as evidence Monday showed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev behind the Richard family shortly before the bomb blast.US Attorney’s Office

He was 53 inches tall and weighed 69 pounds, the medical examiner testified. Prosecutors showed jurors the shredded, blood-stained shirts, pants, and shoes the boy wore on April 15, 2013, the day of the Boston Marathon bombings.

“How old was Martin Richard at the time you performed the autopsy?” Assistant US Attorney Nadine Pellegrini asked the medical examiner on the witness stand Monday.

“He was 8 years old,” Henry Nields, the state’s chief examiner, told the jury.

And with that fact, prosecutors in the federal death-penalty trial of admitted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev rested their case, just after noon, after calling 92 witnesses over 15 days of testimony.


Some of the jurors cried. Martin’s parents, William and Denise Richard, who have been regulars at the trial, sat in the second row and wiped away tears.

The trial is expected to resume Tuesday morning as the defense team continues to present its case. So far, defense lawyers have called two witnesses whose testimony was meant to place a focus on Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, who they say was the mastermind behind the bombings. The blasts injured more than 260 and killed three people: Martin Richard, the son of a well-known Dorchester family; 23-year-old Lingzi Lu, a Boston University graduate student from China; and Krystle Marie Campbell, a 29-year-old from Arlington.


The prosecution’s case, which began earlier this month with chilling testimony from bombing survivors, ended with testimony about how Lu and Richard died.

Lu, who had been walking by the Forum restaurant on Boylston Street when the second bomb exploded, suffered “blast injuries to the lower extremities,” testified Katherine Lindstrom, who conducted the autopsy. She said Lu suffered injuries that sliced through both thighs, and that she probably bled to death.

“It would have been . . . relatively quickly, within seconds to minutes,” Lindstrom said, adding that the injuries “would be very painful.”

Nields, the state’s chief medical examiner, testified that Martin Richard suffered injuries to every part of his body. His left arm was severed and the blast tore into his organs. He had a perforating injury to his lower spinal cord.

Nields pulled the clothes the boy was wearing at the time of his death from an evidence box, a Celtics jersey and Patriots shirt that showed where the bomb tore through his body.


The medical examiner said he could not tell whether Martin had been wearing shorts or pants because the cloth was so severely melted.

Nields also showed jurors the small nails and BBs that came from the bomb and were found in the boy’s body.

“The cause of death was blast injury to the torso and extremities,” Nields said. “The manner of death was homicide.”

Michelle Gamble, an FBI field photographer, also showed jurors a photograph that has never before been released to the public: It showed Tsarnaev, a minute before the blast, standing behind the Richard family, closest to 8-year-old Martin.

Tsarnaev’s defense team has already admitted his guilt, though his lawyers have sought to use the trial to argue that their client was pressured into the attacks and that his life should be spared.

The first phase of the case could finish quickly. In the likelihood that Tsarnaev is found guilty, the defense team will also present a case during the second phase of the trial, when jurors determine Tsarnaev’s punishment.

One of the two defense witnesses called Monday, forensics investigator Gerald R. Grant Jr., told jurors that Tsarnaev’s phone records showed he was at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth when his older brother, in early 2013, bought two pressure cookers from a Macy’s in Saugus, and boxes of BBs from two Walmart stores in New Hampshire.

Prosecutors say the pressure cookers were used to make two of the bombs used by the brothers, and the BBs were used as shrapnel.


The defense team also filed a seven-page motion to dismiss the indictment or, alternatively, dismiss certain counts, arguing that prosecutors double-counted some crimes in the 30 charges Tsarnaev faces. They also argued that prosecutors failed to show enough evidence to sustain two of the charges — that Tsarnaev aided and abetted in the bombing of a public place resulting in the deaths of Richard and Campbell — because the prosecutors showed no evidence that either was a national of another country, one of the legal standards for the charge.

The defense also argued that Tsarnaev cannot be held responsible for the shooting of MBTA police Officer Richard Donohue in Watertown because no evidence showed that he or his brother fired the bullet that struck Donohue. Witness testimony suggested that Donohue was hit by fellow police officers in crossfire.

Prosecutors did not immediately respond to the defense team’s motion.

The filing to dismiss the indictment is standard procedure for any criminal case, however, and US District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. has already rejected some of the legal arguments that were raised by the defense. The judge will ultimately decide which charges will be considered by jurors.

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at mvalencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.