Monday will be the last chance for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s legal team to emotionally connect with the jury as closing arguments are scheduled to begin. After both federal prosecutors and defense attorneys have made their statements, the jury will be ready to begin the deliberation process on the boy’s guilt in April’s gruesome attacks.
While federal prosecutors will attempt to shift the jury’s attention towards the brutality of the attacks, Tsarnaev’s legal team will again attempt to portray the 21-year-old as the aimless student who had been wrongly influenced by the domineering presence of his radical older brother. Regardless of these statements one thing is clear: it’s not about deliberating on whether Dzhokhar is guilty but about deciding on whether he will live or die for his actions.
The trial moved at a rapid pace, as both sides managed to make their case in a bit over two weeks. Such speeds only attest to the fact that Tsarnaev’s legal team wasn’t able to proceed as it had intended (to portray Dzhokhar as having been influenced by Tamerlan, his older brother). In fact, defense attorneys were banned from making that case until Tsarnaev’s guilt had been established. As an alternative strategy, Dzhokhar’s legal team decided to cross examine a bit under half of the witnesses called in by the prosecution. It also called four witnesses.
These four witnesses explained how Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been solely responsible for searching components and instructions for the fabrication of the bomb on his computer. On the other hand, Dzhokhar’s activity was allegedly focused on social media platforms, they claimed. Another witness called in by the defense, an FBI fingerprint expert, explained that only Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s fingerprints had been found on the recovered bomb parts.
As legal experts explain, such a strategy may have hopes of prevailing in the second phase of the trial. By creating the impression that Tamerlan was the mastermind and that Dzhokhar had only acted as a puppet, Tsarnaev’s legal team may gain some credibility with the jury.
The question on everyone’s mind is whether Tsarnaev himself will finally speak during the trial. So far, the defendant only sat quietly as first responders, victims, friends and family of those who were killed came to testify. If and when it comes to it, Dzhokhar will be forced to testify during the sentencing phase of the trial.
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