Tsarnaev Trial Witnesses: Day Three

MARCH 9, 2013:  DAY THREE
Media outlets filed motions for access to exhibits deemed “too sensitive to release.”  The judge will respond to the motions by Friday.  In the courtroom today are bombing survivor Heather Abbot, the parents of Lingzi Lu, Adriranne Haslet-Davis and Bill and Denise Richard.  A wheelchair ramp was set up by the witness stand for the first called witness of the morning.

Witness 17:  Jessica Kensky Downes
Bombing survivor who lost both of her legs.  She grew up in Sacramento, has a nursing degree and worked previously with surgical ICU cancer patients.  Her husband, Patrick Downs, whom she met on Capitol Hill when they were both interns, also lost a leg in the bombings.  She has a service dog named Rescue Kensky, who accompanied her to the witness stand.  She testified that she never slept through the night after the bombings until she got Rescue Kensky.  At the time of marathon, her and her husband were living in a fourth-floor walk up in Harvard Square.  She loved living there but they were getting ready to move  back to CA in the fall of 2013 because her husband had received a fellowship.  The day of the marathon, both her and her husband took the day off and enjoyed a rare morning and afternoon together.

When the bombs went off, Downes testified that she felt like she was on a rocket, landing far to the right where she had been previously standing.  Her eardrums were blown out and she could barely make out the screams of the people around her.  She focused on her husband whose foot and leg were detached, trying to distract him from seeing the extent of his injuries.  Unaware of how injured she was and believing she only had two broken legs, she put a tourniquet on her husband’s leg with her purse strings.  In the process someone came over and told her she was on fire.  She initially fought having her clothes taken off to save her from further burns.  Downes testified that she was loaded onto a stretcher and brought to the medical tent where she became concerned because her husband was never brought in – she feared he was bleeding out on the sidewalk.  After arriving at the hospital, Downes described the atmosphere as being filled with “animalistic screams” (@GlobeCullen).  She realized just how badly injured she was when she watched on the monitor as her blood pressure dropped and her heart rate sped up.

Her left leg could not be saved.  Bomb parts and dirt had been blown down her back.  30-40 bb’s are embedded in her leg and cannot be removed.  She experiences extreme phantom pain in her left leg.  Her eardrums were blown out.  She had shrapnel burns in areas where no one wants shrapnel burns and had 15-20 surgeries on her legs.  Her husband also lost his left leg after about 15 surgeries.  They spent almost five weeks apart recovering in separate hospitals and ultimately had to move out of their 4th-floor walk up because, really, how would they possibly deal with that when both of them are now confined to wheelchairs?  Horrible, horrible situation.  The prosecution showed the jury her clothing from that day:  a charred tank top and a yellow jacket her father had purchased for her with a “huge hole blown in the back” (@hollybdc).

No cross by the defense.

lingzi luWitness 18:  Danling Zhou (10:17 am)
More heartbreaking testimony, this time from Lingzi Lu’s close friend, Danling.  Danling is a native of China, fluent in English, came to the US in 2012 to attend Boston University because the city is nice and studies actuary science.  In 2013, Zhou and Lu went to Disney Universal Studios in Orlando together for spring break.  When asked by Zhou if she wanted to go to the Boston marathon, Lu initially responded that she was going to stay home and study.  Unfortunately, she changed her mind.

Zhou, Lu and another friend Tiffany, after stopping off for a bite to eat, made their way to the front of Forum restaurant on Boylston Street.  After the first bomb went off, Lu was afraid and grabbed her friend, Danling.  Danling didn’t believe it was a bomb and she tried to calm her friend down.  Just as she was about to tell Lu, “Let’s go,” the second bomb exploded.  Because again, folks, these people had like ten seconds to figure out what was happening and decide what they were going to do.  The jury was shown three photos of Zhou and Lu right before the second explosion and Lu is seen with her hand covering her mouth.  After the explosion, Danling remembered laying on a fence, smoke everywhere, unable to hear, blood everywhere, and that the man who had previously been right in front of her was now turned facing her (@GlobeCullen).  He no longer had his legs.

Danling noticed that her legs were intertwined with Lu’s and she tried to stand up.  She realized then they were both injured but believed that Lu would be okay.  Danling, herself, had horrific injuries to her abdomen.  So extensive, in fact, that she was forced to hold her own intestines inside.  She tried to talk to Lu but couldn’t and she finally lost track of her after EMS took Lu away.  Rescue workers continued to come and go until finally Danling held onto one nurse and asked her to stay with her, the pain unbearable every time she had to show her stomach to someone new.  More photos shown to the jury showed Danling propped up against a wrought iron fence while Lu lay dying on the sidewalk, her hands covering her face.  Danling ended up with nerve damage, had surgery on her abdomen, and caught an infection after she left the hospital.  She spent a total of 20-30 days in the hospital and when she initially woke up days after the bombing, she was greeted by the Chinese ambassador.  She asked about Lu and finally, days later, was told her friend had passed away.

No cross by the defense.

Witness 19:  Matt Patterson
Lynn Firefighter, critical care paramedic.

On the day of the marathon, Matt Peterson was at a private party being held at Abe & Louie’s.  When the bombs exploded, he stated that the “release of energy from the bomb was like ‘someone punching you in the chest'” (@wburLive).  When he ran outside the first victim he came across was Jane Richard. He knew she needed to get help quickly or she would bleed out.  He said her leg “looked like if you were to put meat through a grinder” (@lolsarg).  He picked Jane up and brought her to EMS who then got her into an ambulance.  He returned to Forum.

No cross by the defense.

Witness 20:  Dr. James Bath (11:46 am)
Dr. Bath testified that he was standing on the corner of Newbury and Gloucester when he heard the explosions.  A man coming down the street in tattered clothes said to him, “All my friends are dead, I need to get out of here,” (@wburLive).  He soon stumbled across numerous victims.  He found one girl on the ground, unconscious and breathing yet he felt she would not make it.  Another victim had lost a foot but already had a tourniquet on – her name was Adrienne Haslett.  He saw Richard Martin covered by a tablecloth and was taken aback by all the strewn body parts.  He testified that he came upon Lingzi Lu but thought that she was dying and there was not much he could do for her.  She had lost too much blood and had a “deep laceration from pelvis to ankle…(all) her blood was on the sidewalk” (DebFeyerickCNN).  @caseysherman tweeted that Dr. Bath had found a “warm piece of metal in Lu’s purse.”  Strange because Lauren Woods had testified earlier that she had found Lu’s BU ID in her purse so she could call her by name.  Huh.  Everyone’s rummaging for IDs?  Let’s just get them to the ambulance first, shall we?

No cross by the defense.

Witness 21:  FBI Agent Anthony Imel
Prosecutor Bill Weinreb on direct
Imel works for the FBI forensic video analysis/digital evidence lab.  His primary focus is digital pictures and video, usually from surveillance, private cameras, etc.  He personally viewed 655 video submissions at the Black Falcon evidence site.  He testified that the feds, “quickly focused on two suspects – white hat and black hat” and that they were seen repeatedly in images (@RickSerranoLAT, @hollybdc).  Imel testified that he put together a sort of video compilation of Jahar on marathon day placed within an interactive timeline.  Picture this:  A map of the city with dots placed on it according to a “Where did they come from and where did they go” Tsarnaev timeline.  If you click on a dot, a video of the Tsarnaevs willl play (@hollybdc).  Clever, eh?  The interactive timeline was shown to jurors.  The yellow line on the map represented Jahar while the red line represented Tamerlan.  Both of them were shown entering the marathon area at Gloucester, by the Whiskey Bar.  After the bombing, Imel testified, Tamerlan exited north at Exeter while Jahar exited north at Fairfield.

The second video on the map was from the Back Bay Social Club, next to Whiskeys.  The video showed the brothers standing there.  A third video taken from the Crate and Barrel cameras showed Jahar watching the runners.  Additionally, a video from the Forum showed Jahar with a backpack, the slow dip of his shoulder to the right and then, according to the feds, no backpack.  This is the moment authorities say he dropped his backpack next to Martin Richard.

The next exhibit was a T-Mobile phone bill for a phone listed to “Jahar Tsarni” and an account that had only been opened the day before (@hollybdc).  According to testimony, the records showed that Jahar called from his phone (617-286-9151) to his brother, Tamerlan, (857-928-4634) at 2:51 pm and that that call lasted 19 seconds.  After that phone call, Jahar walked away from the Forum and seconds later the second bomb was detonated.  After this, the jury was shown more videos that captured Jahar and his brother both running down the street separately – Jahar down Boylston, and Tamerlan the opposite way past a Montessori school.  Neither of them appear to have their backpacks.

Cross Examination by the Defense (Miriam Conrad):
Q:  Time stamps not necessarily accurate?
A:  Depends on who set them up (according to @GlobeCullen)

Q:  Are the time stamps accurate?
A:  “No.”  (according to @AlyshaNECN)

Q:  Each of these sources may have different times, even if they were taken at the same time?
A:  Yes, ma’am. (@wburLive)

Q:  When you put these together you put times in the cards that best represented the sequence of events?
A:  The time stamps are from the metadata of the video & images (@AlyshaNECN)
*************
– Conrad pulls up a photo outside Bay Back Social Club showing a time stamp of 2:41 pm.
– He pulls up time stamp on the Bank of America video, it show 2:28pm.
*************
Q:  Is the time stamp from Bank of America accurate, it appears to be off?
A:  Yes, it’s likely off. (@AlyshaNECN)
*************
– Video showing Tamerlan leaving the bomb site has a time stamp of 2:50 pm.
************
Q:  You decided to place the image of Dzhokhar passing Fairfield St. after Tamerlan passed the Montessori school on Exteter? (@AlyshaNECN)

Q:  You don’t have any evidence of how Tamerlan got from Marathon Sports to the school?
A:  No, ma’am. (@wburLive)

Q:  Did you take into account the distances involved?
A:  No. (@GlobeCullen)

Q:  The timeline shows them side by side, but there is no image when Dzhokhar was in the lead?
A:  Outside the Bay Back Social Club. (@GlobeCullen)
A:  There’s several positions where they actually do stop and change positions. (@Laurel_Sweet)

Q:  So they split up a little before the Forum?
A:  Yes, ma’am. (@GlobeCullen)
************
– Conrad switches to the cellphone bills
– The call log indicates that a call was made from the phone listed to Jahar at 2:49:06 pm and an incoming call came in on the same phone at 2:51:19 pm.
– Imel testified that Jahar called Tamerlan before the bombs went off, which is what the prosecution illustrated in Forum video (@hollybdc)
– Def gets agent to admit he can’t tell exact time of Dzhokhar on phone  (@dhausleon7)
************
Q:  So isn’t that call from Tamerlan to Dzhokhar?
A:  Yes.
Q:  So you don’t know if call on Forum

is from one brother to the other?
A:  No, ma’am.  (@GlobeCullen)
***********
– Conrad notes phone records indicate Tamerlan called Dzhokhar at 2:51 pm. @Laurel_Sweet

Redirect by the Prosecution:
Q:  So image at Montessori was 2:50, as was Dzhokhar rounding corner of Fairfield?  Could be at the same time?
A:  Yes.  (@GlobeCullen)

Witness 22:  James Holley (2:30 pm)
Holley is the Chief of Boston Emergency Medical Services.  He’s been with them for 36 years.  He testified to how many ambulances were in the city on the day of the marathon (24), how many ambulances were assigned to the event (13), and how many extra personnel were scheduled (120).

He was near St. James and Dartmouth, at the medical tent on Copley Square, when the bombs exploded.  The medical and response team notified hospitals of incoming wounded and triaged and prioritized the victims (@GlobeCullen).  They tagged people based on their injuries:  red was critical (30 people), yellow was serious but not life threatening (225 people) and green was walking wounded (35 people).  He testified that 118 people were transported by ambulance to nearby hospitals:  23 to Brigham, 19 to BMC and 16 to Mass General (@GlobeCullen).

No cross by the defense.

Witness 23:  Willie Gross (2:47 pm)
Chief of the Boston Police Department.  He’s been with the department for almost 30 years and on the day of the marathon he was Zone 6 Commander at Audubon Circle in Kenmore Square.  840 Boston police officers were working the marathon that day.  Their biggest concerns for the day were people drinking in the street and suspicious packages.  They performed a bomb sweep at 7:30 am before the race.

Like many witnesses that have already testified, Gross confirmed that the day of the bombings started off as a beautiful, perfect day.  Near 3pm, Gross heard Detective Sgt. Danny Keeler yell out over Channel 1 radio, “Stop the race!  Give me everything you have!” (@GlobeCullen).  Gross sent the men he could over to Boylston and 30 minutes after the bombings he stopped the race at Audubon Circle.  He testified that over 240 injured people were moved within 21 to 22 minutes (@GlobeCullen) and that they completed more security sweeps at the finish line – suspicious bags were tagged with a green glow sticks and not suspicious with white tape.  He didn’t know, nor did any other official, how many people had been involved in the bombing and who had planted them.  He said it was difficult using the radio or a cellphone because of the traffic and he testified to the order of command at the crime scene:  Commissioner Davis took control, then Superintendent in Chief Dan Linskey and then the feds by 7:30 pm.  They blocked off a 12-block radius to “man the perimeter of the crime scene” (@dhausleon7), Green Line was shut down, Amtrak halted, a no-fly zone put into place and the Bruins game was cancelled (@lilsarg).  Over 4,000 hours of video was turned in along with thousands of photos.

Marathon statistics:  3 dead, 240 injured, 17 amputees.

No cross by the defense.

Witness 24:  Caitlin Harper (3:07 pm)
She was the manager at Central Square Whole Foods, Prospect Street in Cambridge at the time of the bombings. Obviously this is about the milk. Everyone’s freaking about the milk.  So here’s what happened according to testimony:  the feds somehow figured out that Jahar went to Whole Foods (I didn’t see a date tweeted when the feds went to Whole Foods but I’m guessing it has to do with that GPS system we heard about earlier) and asked to review their surveillance tapes.  On the tape, Jahar, wearing no baseball cap, entered Whole Foods at 3:12:37pm.  He headed to the dairy aisle, picked out some milk, headed to checkout and at some point checked his cellphone.  He paid with a $20, left with no bag at about 3:14pm, headed into the parking lot and got into the passenger seat of a Honda Civic (according to @JimArmstrongWBZ).  The car pulled away but then returned and Jahar “practically ran back into the store” to exchange the milk (@GlobeCullen).  Harper reviewed the computer receipt for the 1/2 gallon of milk purchase (or did Whole Foods call the FBI?  If so, when?) and that ended testimony.

No cross by the defense.

Witness 25:  Greg Homol (3:18 pm)
Short and sweet testimony.  Homol is the UMass Fitness Center Director and he testified that students have to use a key card to enter the fitness center at school.  He said that on the morning of April 19, someone told him that one of the suspects of the Boston bombings was a student at the school.  He told them they shouldn’t spread gossip as he had another student pull up Jahar’s name in the system in order to confirm that exact gossip.  He testified that the gym does have surveillance cameras that record who swipes in and out of the center.  At 9:05pm on 4.16.13, Jahar swiped himself into the center.

No cross by the defense.

Witness 26:  Christopher Frias (3:25 pm)
Frias is the UMass Dartmouth IT infrastructure project manager.  He was called in to help preserve the university’s surveillance footage data.  He specifically was asked to preserve the tapes from 4.19.13.  Video surveillance shows that Jahar entered the gym at 9:05 pm with a friend, wearing sweat pants and a long sleeve shirt.  Another video showed Jahar exiting the gym at 10:08pm, again with a friend, and wearing a red t-shirt.  Shortly thereafter, he put on his long-sleeved sweatshirt.

No cross by the defense.

Witness 27:  FBI Special Agent, Steve Kimbal (3:35 pm)
FBI Special Agent in Boston.  Has been an agent for ten years.

His office identified Jahar’s social media accounts on twitter:  @j_tsar and @Al_FirdausiA.  Both of these accounts were shown to the jury.  The @Al_FirdausiA account was created on March 11, 2013 and the same gmail account was used for both twitter accounts:  tsar1jahar@gmail.com.  The feds also sought information about gmail account Jahar1tsar@gmail.com.  The IP registration, Kimbal testified, traced back to UMass where Jahar attended school.  @producerjesse tweeted another email account, j.tsarnaev@yahoo.com, but I’m not sure of the significance.

Folks, I’m not going through his tweets.  I”m not.  Oddly enough, Twitter never took down Jahar’s accounts so you’re free to peruse at your leh-zure.  I will mention that Jahar responded to a tweet making its rounds on twitter shortly after the bombings which depicted Sydney Corcoran on the ground and bloodied.  The caption said something about how the man in the picture with her had just proposed but she died shortly thereafter.  Tragic love story, right?  Nope.  And Jahar took to the internet to correct this egregious online mistake with the  tweet, “Fake story.”  Huh.  How did he even know it was fake at the time?  Seriously, was he keeping up with the victims through the news or internet after the bombing?  If so, why??  Okay, one more tweet – Jahar tweeted about having a party at his place on the 9/11 anniversary.  Total outrage, right?  Right.  Because the US has never bombed and killed children not only younger than Martin Richard but more of them….ohhh, I digress.  Okay, before you become enraged, for one, the date of 9/11 is also when Jahar became a legal citizen of the United States and two, it’s an issue raised by the defense tomorrow.  No spoilers alerts here.

Outside of account information and actual tweets, Kimbal also testified that Jahar’s cover pic on his second tweet account is a photo of Mecca and that his “handle,”  “Ghuraba” means strangers.  The defense objected to the prosecution showing any tweets from Jahar’s second account that mentioned following the teachings of Anwar al-Awlaki.

Coming up:  The defense’s cross of Steve Kimbal and the Tsarnaev Trial Witnesses:  Day Four

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