When Dzhokhar Tsarnaev surprisingly confessed at his sentencing that he "did it", with the emphasis "if there are any lingering doubts", he seemed to hammer the last nail into his own coffin. Many of his so-called supporters (those who think it's possible/probable/certain that he's innocent) perceived especially the "lingering doubts" remark as a slap in the face for their efforts to point out these doubts. Perplexity spreaded, and the defense team was quickly suspected of trying to silence the supporters.
Two weeks later, the lingering doubts rear their head again. In a preliminary motion for a new trial, the defense contests every single conviction:
A new trial is required in the interests of justice and judgments notwithstanding the verdict are required as a matter of evidentiary insufficiency.The last two words are a sardonic euphemism for "insufficient evidence", and the explosive potential of this "jaw-breaker" did not escape alert observers like James Henry. For those who nourished hope that they would never hear from Tsarnaev again this is of course a huge disappointment.
For a close observer of the trial, the new development is not that surprising. The defense team, including the defendant himself, exhibited a fairly relaxed demeanor, which was grotesquely contrasted by their lack of engagement especially in the guilt phase. The trial seemed to be only a matter of duty to them. They came forward very rarely with evidence acquired by their own.
At one occasion however the public gained a glimpse into the defense tactics. When defense witness and Chechnya expert Prof. Michael Reynolds was cross-examined, prosecutor William Weinreb asked him if he still believed - as he had written in a book - that the Tsarnaevs chose to carry out terrorism. Reynolds denied and told him that his opinion had changed after seeing the "defense's evidence". It was obviously not Reynold's intention to reveal his knowledge of this undisclosed material. He only admitted to it after being squeezed by Weinreb. A clear sign for the defense's "sandbagging" strategy.
There is only a little step from "they didn't want to carry out terroristic acts" to "they didn't carry out terroristic acts". The mainstream media preferred to omit Reynolds' awkward admission in their reports. But surpressing unconvenient facts doesn't make them go away. It is only a matter of time until the evidence cited by Reynolds will find its way into the courtroom - and the public.
Meanwhile, Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan announced to prosecute Tsarnaev on a state level for the death of officer Sean Collier, a move that is met with general incomprehension. The Boston Globe's Adrian Walker finds it "myopic":
But Tsarnaev will not be the next example of that. His defense lawyer said repeatedly, in open court, that he committed the crimes he was charged with. At his sentencing, Tsarnaev offered something of an apology for his actions — further evidence that the facts of his case are not, in any way, in dispute. He is guilty, and is never going to be exonerated.Walker has obviously missed the defense's provisional appeal. Is DA Ryan's announcement a reaction to that? In a new article James Henry imagines a different motive:
One more factor must be considered. A new trial before another judge has the potential to focus attention on the many loose ends in the case against the Tsarnaevs that have remained unresolved despite “official investigations” and their subsequent “findings.”He then points out the strange role of the FBI in the investigation in Cambridge. Harvey Silverglate's thoughts go into the same direction. On his twitter page, he rejects Walker's rant:
Another Tsarnaev trial might unveil info the feds hid from us, so no, Middlesex Co. DA isn't "myopic".Apparently the doubts are back, and they are lingering more than ever.