Several relatives of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who has family in southern Russia, arrived in Boston Thursday, according to a person familiar with the case.
They are arriving as Tsarnaev’s lawyers prepare to put on their case starting Monday in the sentencing phase of the bombing trial.
It was unclear which members of Tsarnaev’s family are now in town, and whether any of them will be called to testify. In addition to having family in southern Russia, Tsarnaev has two sisters in New Jersey, and an uncle in Maryland. Tsarnaev’s parents — Anzor and Zubeidat — reportedly live in Dagestan. A spokesman for the state police would not comment on whether any Tsarnaev family members arrived in Boston, but did say the mother did not come. If she had returned to the country, she could be arrested for failing to appear in court on a shoplifting charge from 2012.
Prosecutors rested their case on Thursday after calling 17 witnesses over three days, including several bombing survivors who have rarely told their story publicly. The prosecution used the sentencing phase to focus on the lives of his victims, their family’s loss, and the altered lives of those who survived.
Prosecutors have presented “aggravating factors” that they say warrant the death penalty. They say the brothers were inspired by Al Qaeda, and were equal partners in the attacks. They also say the attacks were preplanned, that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev knew that people could die, including children.
Tsarnaev’s defense attorneys will begin making their case next week, presenting what are known as “mitigating factors,” that they hope will convince jurors to spare his life.
Already the lawyers have argued that Tsarnaev’s accomplice and older brother, Tamerlan, was the mastermind of the attacks, that he coerced an impressionable younger brother into helping him carry out the bombing. They pointed out that Tamerlan acquired the bomb parts, and argued that he was the one who shot and killed Collier. And they said it was Tamerlan who then led police into a firefight in Watertown, where he was killed.
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