Samstag, 23. Januar 2016

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, arms folded - unusual posture

by Woody Box

Adam Reilly's tweet is from the day when the defense finished its part of the guilt phase with a most unconventional handling of evidence: a handful of photos, to be shown to judge and jury without an accompanying witness. This was a step so uncommon that it needed law books, three side bars, two hours and one lunch break before the question was decided and the defense eventually rested. I have already emphasized the episode in a previous article, and this is a refreshment. Jane24 was attendant and has written a detailed chronology of this remarkable day.

It is still not clear what happened to the photos and who got a look at them; the jury and the courtroom definitely not. I have argued in my article that most likely the judge inspected the photos during the last recess in camera, i.e. non-public. After that he returned and ruled that the photos could not be shown in the courtroom for formal reasons. 

After the defense's initial announcement to present the photos, the judge appointed a sidebar. The above tweet is taken when this first sidebar ended. No other journalist reported Dzhokhar folding his arms. 

Reilly is right on the point: Folding his arms is in fact an unusual posture for a defendant accused of a grave felony. Probably not seen very often at a court. The gesture has a lot of different meanings, depending on the context. It can signal rejection, readiness to defense oneself, but also confidence or a wait-and-see attitude. 

The judge had just been caught off-guard by the defense, and the first sidebar was obviously successful for them as their request was not instantly rejected. Defense attorneys were chatting cheerfully, and Dzhokhar folded his arms. In this context, confidence and wait-and-see seems to be an appropriate demeanor.

This is more than reading tea leaves or l'art pour l'art because it is related to one of the biggest, yet underrated, mysteries of the trial: what do these photos show? 

I'd like to establish three categories of significance in order to make sense of the mystery.

1 - the pictures bear absolutely exonerating evidence, maybe photos of the crime scenes flatly contradicting the prosecution's material or the official narrative right up to falsification

2 - the pictures generate questions with regard to the official narrative, but not to the extent that it is flatly disproven

3 - the pictures are redundant with regard to the guilt question, maybe showing Dzhokhar as a child to raise sympathy

It is not known if Dzhokhar himself has seen the photos when he folded his arms, but certainly he was told what was pictured on them. Another tweet of Adam Reilly suggests that he hadn't seen them at this point - but that he saw them two hours later, for the first time:

This tweet was sent during the last recess, when the judge was outside the courtroom and presumably looking through the photos. The assumption that Dzhokhar was looking at the very same photos at the very same time is straightforward and almost inescapable. His fascination shows that he saw them for the first time.

So probably no childhood photos. These pictures must have a fundamental significance. If they belong to category 1 or category 2 or something in between is hard to say. Dzhokhar's demeanor however strongly suggests category 1. He knew that on this day his attorneys would launch a kind of offensive for the first time. That's why he folded his arms. And the photos show a version of what happened at the crime scenes which is not compatible to the prosecution's version. That's why he was so fascinated.

To repeat a statement of my earlier article: most likely the photos bear proof for his innocence. And they will not go away.

1 Kommentar:

  1. Thanks, WB, for revisiting what was and still is one of the biggest and most tantalizing mysteries associated with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's trial.

    The production of these photographs most certainly provoked consternation on the part of both the judge and the prosecution on that day, and for this reason I, as the author, tend not to believe that these images were merely reflections on Tsarnaev's childhood. My memory of William Weinreb's immediate and forceful objection to these photographs being shown in court serves to reinforce this conclusion.

    Moreover, Tsarnaev's posture, as remarked upon by Adam Reilly and and further analyzed in this post, is not likely insignificant.