In this three-part blog posting, we are reviewing the individual criminal counts charged against Tsarnaev, and what they mean. The first part covered the 15 counts related to the actual bombing at the Boston Marathon, and the conspiracy leading up to the crime. In this part, we will cover the next 15 counts related to the subsequent attempted escape, MIT officer shooting, carjacking, and shootout with police.
Counts 16-30: The Attempted Getaway and Carjacking
The remaining counts are related to Tsarnaev's alleged actions taken in the days following the bombing. As residents no doubt recall, the days following the bombing were tense as themanhunt for those involved continued.
On April 18, 2013, surveillance video and photos were released showing two suspects. A few hours later, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev are alleged to have armed themselves with additional explosive devices, and a handgun, before driving to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ("MIT"). They are later alleged to have shot MIT police officer Sean Collier. The indictment then alleges the two carjacked a Mercedes, threatening to kill the driver as they drove around to fill up the gas tank, and forced the driver to provide his ATM card and pin number, taking $800 from an ATM machine.
After the driver escaped and called 911, the Watertown police attempted to apprehend the individuals in the stolen car. When confronted Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev allegedly tried to shoot, bomb, kill, or disable the law enforcement officers with a gun or use of the explosive devices. When Tamerlan was finally tackled by police, Dzhokhar allegedly got back in the Mercedes, drove at police officers, and escaped, seriously injuring Tamerlan as well as Officer Richard Donohue. Eventually, Dzhokhar was captured by police after he was discovered hiding in a drydocked boat. These events resulted in the indictment counts 16 through 30.
Counts 16-18 involve the alleged use of a firearm in the killing of MIT police officer Sean Collier. The prosecutors again used the violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924c, possession and use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence resulting in death. However, in these three counts, the "firearm" referenced is not the explosive device used, but rather the Ruger 9mm semiautomatic handgun, allegedly used to shoot Collier.
The "firearm" here is the gun, but the "crime of violence" relates to the earlier bombings. Therefore, the violation of using a handgun in relation to a crime of violence involving the shooting of Collier is charged three times in the indictment, once in relation to each of the underlying bombing conspiracy charges, namely, Counts 1, 6 and 11.
Counts 19-22 involve the carjacking of the driver identified as D.M. and his 2013 Mercedes. Count 19 is for Carjacking Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury. See 18 U.S.C. § 2119(2). In this case, although D.M. was not seriously injured, the carjacking later resulted in serious bodily injury to Officer Donohue when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev fled from police. A separate crime is alleged in relation to D.M. being forced by threat and violence to give the assailants his ATM card and PIN number, which they used to take cash from an ATM machine. Both of these counts carry the additional possession and use of a firearm count because the carjacking and theft from the ATM involved a handgun used to further the crime.
Counts 23-30 involve the confrontation by police officers who attempted to apprehend the two suspects driving the Mercedes after D.M. had escaped. Just as in relation to Counts 2 and 4, the prosecutors are treating each of the separate explosive devices as a separate weapon of mass destruction. The alleged destructive explosive devices used in the days following the bombing include a third pressure cooker-type bomb, and three (3) pipe bombs. Use of these devices when confronted by police officers account for Counts 23, 25, 27 and 29.
The additional Counts 24, 26, 28 and 30 again involve the accompanying charge of possession and use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. In these counts, the "firearm" involved is alleged to be both the explosive devices (Pressure Cooker Bomb #3, and Pipe Bomb #1-3), as well as the handgun used in the confrontation with police officers.
Next, we will discuss what "aiding and abetting" means, and why there is so much about "interstate commerce" in the indictment, in addition to a breakdown list of the individual counts listed in the indictment.