Image source: Boston.com
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is almost certainly going to jail. For a very long time. The evidence in the criminal complaint is overwhelming and includes:
- Video Surveillance – images from at least five cameras on both sides of the street place the Tsarnaev brothers at the location of the bombings.
- Forum Video – A video camera at the Forum restaurant, the location of the second bombing, plays a large role in the complaint. The complaint says that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placed his backpack on the ground and stood there for four minutes playing with his phone. After the first bomb goes off everyone in front of the Forum turns toward the explosion. Tsarnaev remains calm and then walks away. His bomb goes off 10 seconds later. This is the bomb that killed 8-year-old Martin Richard
- Confession – The complaint alleges that a carjacker (later identified as the Tsarnaev brothers) admit to the victim: “Did you hear about the Boston explosion? I did that.” The complaint does not say which brother made the statement.
- ATM and Gas Station Footage – The complaint identifies the carjackers as the Tsarnaev brothers from ATM and gas station surveillance.
- Bomb Similarities – IEDs allegedly thrown by the Tsarnaev brothers at police during their shootout used similar pressure cookers, BBs and fuses to the Boston Marathon bombs.
- Apartment Search – a search of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s apartment found clothes, including the white hat, that matched surveillance footage from the marathon bombing.
There has been some controversy as to whether Tsarnaev should be read his Miranda rights. But Miranda is an exclusionary rule. Meaning, the police don’t have to read him his Miranda rights, they just can’t use anything he says against him if it’s determined he was interrogated improperly. Based on the list above, it looks like they’ve got all they need to prosecute Tsarnaev.
Alan Dershowitz, though, says that while all the video evidence may prove Tsarnaev committed the act, it won’t ensure he gets the death penalty. In order to get the death penalty prosecutors will have to prove “terroristic intent” and that will have to come from his statements. If his statements come during a pre-Miranda interrogation they can’t be used against him. Thus, no death penalty.
Dershowitz thinks the much discussed “public safety exception” to Miranda, which allows authorities to interview a suspect to ensure there is no remaining public safety – and still use those statements in court, won’t hold up. He says the authorities celebrated that there was no remaining public safety problem when they arrested Tsarnaev.
Maybe Dershowitz is right that the feds will sacrifice the death penalty by not reading Tsarnaev his Miranda rights. Or maybe the public safety exception will hold up and they can prove his intent. Either way he is going to jail.
The bottom line is that you don’t have a right to have Miranda read to you. You just have a right not to have pre-Miranda statements used against you in court.
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