The interpretation of a video still image of convicted Boston Marathon bomber giving a holding cell camera the finger, may be the ultimate deciding factor in whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.
In the second day of the penalty phase of the Boston Marathon bombing trial, a defense attorney for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev presented the complete video from which the the video still image was taken. The original footage taken July 10, 2013, depicts Tsarnaev inside a holding cell prior to his arraignment on the same day for charges in the April 2013 Boston Marathon attacks.
Does the full video of the Boston Marathon bomber reveal the “unrepentant killer he is?”
On Tuesday the prosecution presented the still image from the released video to argue their case for the death penalty. Depicted in the presented image, Mr. Tsarnaev appears angry with his middle finger pointed toward the camera. The prosecutor told jurors that the image revealed the “unrepentant killer he is.”
However, some in court reporters such as NPR’s Tovia Smith are reporting that the complete video leaves a “strikingly different impression,” arguing that it is not black and white.
Defense attorneys, advocating for a life sentence for Tsarnaev, showed video clips of him in the moments before he made his defiant gesture. He fixed his hair and flashed a “V” sign, as many teens do in selfies, before extending his middle finger at the camera.
The New York Times reports that the defense was trying to recast the gesture today. The paper reports:
“Miriam Conrad, a defense lawyer, said as she cross-examined a government witness that the surveillance camera had a shiny reflective cover, like a mirror.
“The video showed that shortly after he entered a holding cell, Mr. Tsarnaev looked at the camera and began primping his long, floppy hair. He stood on a bench and looked more closely into the camera, again as if into a mirror, and continued to fluff up his hair.
“Then in very quick movements, he flashed a backward, two-fingered sign that Ms. Conrad called a ‘V sign,’ and then the middle finger. The judge did not allow Ms. Conrad to characterize the fleeting gestures. But the video seemed to cast some doubt on the prosecution’s contention the day before that Mr. Tsarnaev had ‘one more message to send.’”
Prosecutors continue on Thursday, then defense attorneys will begin to try to explain why Tsarnaev’s crimes do not deserve the death penalty.
On April 15th 2013, Tsarnaev’s act of terror left three people dead at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and wounded more than 260 others. He and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, also killed MIT police officer Sean Collier as they tried to flee.
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