Alleged Boston bomber, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19, is to come face to face with some of the survivors of the terrible attack when he makes his first court appearance today.
A huge police presence will be in force at the courthouse in Boston for Tsarnaev, who is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction in the bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 260.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office said that victims’ families will be present at the hearing, but she didn’t mention how many planned to attend. Court officials have set aside an overflow courtroom to broadcast the court hearing for the media, reports USA Today.
It would be the first public appearancs of the 19-year-old since his April 19 arrest. He has been previously questioned by court at a hospital, where he was recovering from injuries suffered in a shootout with police the night he was captured.
Tsarnaev’s arrest stunned people who knew him as a likable high school athlete in Cambridge, where he lived with his older brother after his parents who moved for Russia.
According to prosecutors, Tsarnaev wrote about his motivations for the attack on the inside walls and beams of the boat where he was hiding trying to escape from the police.
He wrote the U.S. government was “killing our innocent civilians.”
“I don’t like killing innocent people,” he said, but also wrote “I can’t stand to see such evil go unpunished. … We Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all.”
Three people — Martin Richard, 8; Krystle Marie Campbell, 29, and Lingzi Lu, 23, were killed in the marathon bombings, which were composed of pressure cookers.
Authorities also reported that Dzhokar and the second suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, killed Massachusetts Institute of Technology officer Sean Collier days later while they were on the run.
According to reports, the suspect could face death penalty. Attorney General Eric Holder will have to decide whether to seek death for Tsarnaev. It is the highest-profile such decision yet to come before Holder, who personally opposes the measure, writes The Huffington Post.
“If you have the death penalty and don’t use it in this kind of case where someone puts bombs down in crowds of civilians, then in what kind of case do you use it?” said Aitan D. Goelman, who was part of the legal team that prosecuted Oklahoma City bombing figures Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.
Massachusetts abolished death penalty in 1984, but the marathon bombings suspect is being prosecuted in federal court. Since the federal death penalty reentered in force in 1988, only three people, including McVeigh, have been executed. Others have pending appeals.
In cases where federal juries decided between death and life, they have imposed twice as many life sentences as death sentences – 144 to 73 – claims data from the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project, a group created by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.