Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was in a hospital bed Monday under heavy guard, unable to speak, with gunshot wounds to the head, neck, legs, and hand.
That didn't stop federal prosecutors from charging him, in his hospital room, with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill.
Word came Monday that the 19-year-old suspected bomber will be tried in federal court as a civilian.
"We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "Under U.S. law, United States citizens cannot be tried in military commissions."
Tuesday, authorities said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and his brother Tamerlan, appear to have been motivated by their religious faith but do not seem connected to any Muslim terrorist groups
Tsarnaev became a naturalized U.S. citizen, either ironically or intentionally, on 9/11 last year. But because of the terroristic nature of the Boston bombings, some lawmakers urged that he be treated as an enemy combatant and not be afforded the legal protections of the U.S. Constitution.
Tsarnaev's capture has also raised questions about Miranda warnings and why prosecutors chose to hold off on reading him his rights. Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney George Tragos, of Tragos & Sartes in Clearwater, explained why.
"You don't have to read them Miranda if there is a public safety issue," Tragos said.
Interrogators feared that if they warned Tsarnaev of his rights, or "Mirandized" him, he wouldn't tell them whether there were further threats to the public.
"He'll lawyer up," said Tragos. "A lawyer will go in there and tell him not to speak any longer to the law enforcement agencies. They wouldn't get the public safety information they need. The Supreme Court has said they don't have to give him those warnings because the public needs to be protected first."
The criminal complaint details the government's case against Tsarnaev. It's a minute-by-minute timeline of the two brothers walking with knapsacks toward the marathon's finish line, apparently slipping the bags onto the ground, and using a cell phone seconds before the blasts. There's speculation as to whether a cell phone was used to detonate the explosives.
Tragos says such evidence eliminates any real concern about Miranda.
"In this case, I don't think they're too worried about it," Tragos said. "They have enough evidence to convict this man without any Miranda statements, without any confessions."
Charges against Tsarnaev carry a possible death sentence.
The Obama administration said it had no choice but to prosecute Tsarnaev in the federal court system. Some politicians had suggested he be tried as an enemy combatant in front of a military tribunal, where defendants are denied some of the usual U.S. constitutional protections.
But Tsarnaev is a naturalized U.S. citizen, and under U.S. law, American citizens cannot be tried by military tribunals, White House spokesman Jay Carney said. Carney said that since 9/11, the federal court system has been used to convict and imprison hundreds of terrorists.
In its criminal complaint, the FBI said it searched Tsarnaev's dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth on Sunday and found BBs as well as a white hat and dark jacket that look like those worn by one of one of the suspected bombers in the surveillance photos the FBI released a few days after the attack.
(Material from the Associated Press contributed to this report.)
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
Didn't find what you were looking for?