Dun ‘Danny’ Meng
by Josée Lépine
I am about to tell you the ‘tale’ of a man who the authorities say sealed their case against Dzhokhar (Jahar) Tsarnaev, namely Chinese entrepreneur, Dun Meng aka Danny. From the very beginning Danny had told police that he was carjacked by the brothers who had done the Marathon bombing in Boston.
The US Government repeatedly claim that they have overwhelming evidence the Tsarnaev brothers bombed the Marathon, killed a police officer, carjacked and kidnapped Dun Meng, and engaged in a firefight with police. In my opinion they failed miserably during the trial and could not prove any of it.
At some point I gave up reading news articles on the Marathon case and decided to wait and see what came out in court. I have purchased all the transcripts (available so far) of Jahar’s trial, and shared them with the website weebly.com, where you can access them (trial transcripts 1544 and 1546).
Danny the carjackee had told the press, back in 2013, that his assailant (Tamerlan Tsarnaev) had rapped on the glass. Danny, unable to hear him, lowered the window — and the man reached an arm through, unlocked the door, and climbed in, brandishing a silver handgun.
Government exhibit 930
As you see the gun that ended up in court is not silver, but no one in the defense team quizzed Danny about the discrepancy.
Anyway, for today I want to concentrate on the “gas station evidence.”
All about Surveillance Cameras
So let’s look at Transcript 1544. Alan Mednick, owner of the Memorial Shell gas station at 820 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, took the stand. Prosecutor Weinreb asked him to identify the following photographs. Mednick agreed that those are accurate photographs.
Government exhibit 742 – Situating the two gas stations
Government exhibit 743 – The Memorial Drive Shell
Government exhibit 744 – Another view from River Street, with Shell on the left
Then Weinreb asked Mednick if his gas station has security cameras. His answer is quite surprising – Yes it does — 16 of them. They cover outside — most of the property — and inside cameras, too.
When asked if they take fair and accurate video recordings of what they’re pointed at? His answer was ‘absolutely’.
Weinreb shows the jurors two more pictures of that gas station, this time revealing at least one video camera.
Government exhibit 746
Government exhibit 747
When asked what happened on April 18, the owner recounted he was woken up at 12:30 a.m. and was asked to go to the station. [Note: he really means the wee hours of April nineteenth.]
When he arrived, a police officer did not want him to go inside the gas station and look at any surveillance videos until the FBI got there. Why?
He and the police officers, however, did not wait for the FBI to arrive before viewing the surveillance video. Detective Flynn from Cambridge Police asked Mednick, the owner, to check the video right away. So he played it back for him.
Then Mednick played the video again for a state trooper, but this time they gave him a USB (flash drive) onto which he should downloaded copies of the video, so Mednick did that.
Detective Flynn asked him to make photocopies and he obliged, as fortunately he carries a color printer with him in his car! Then two FBI agents arrived and he obliged again and downloaded the video on a flash drive for them.
Cherry-picking the Evidence
Then Weinreb asked Mednick if he has seen a version of that surveillance tape that he gave the authorities but combining tape from different cameras. (Please keep this in mind.) He stated under oath that the combined one was a fair and accurate copy of portions of the tape that he gave to the police that night.
(I will tell you that it could not possibly be “fair and accurate”. There must have been a lot of cherry-picking that went on, as to which bits of which videos would go into that final product!)
To prove a crime, shouldn’t you show all of it? Why leave doubts? Is there really any so-called ‘overwhelming evidence’ that Dun Meng was actually kidnapped and carjacked — and ‘heroically’ escaped? There’s none at all. It is a chimera, a trick, a disgusting batch of lies.
What Door Did Who Exit From?
Please go to Trial Exhibit 748 and watch this short video.
You can see a black SUV pull up to the pump at the Memorial Drive Gas station. You see a man, possibly it is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, exiting the SUV from the front passenger door.
WHAT? Dun Meng testified under oath on Day 6 of the trial that Dzhokhar was sitting in the back passenger seat directly behind him (not in the front). Note: Dun Meng also testified that when Dzhokhar exited the SUV, he was left alone in it with Tamerlan.
Significantly, we never see the licence plate of that SUV. Why not, with sixteen cameras on the premise, surely one of them would have picked it up. Remember: this exhibit is a compilation of the captures of the all Mr Mednick’s surveillance cameras. It is, at the very least, ‘doctored’ in so far as much has been cut out.
Maybe the first part of the video is from a day other than April 18, 2013? Couldn’t Dzhokhar, with some friend that happens to own a black SUV, go grab snacks? Notice: there is no date/time stamp on that exhibit to prove that the picture was captured on April 18, 2013 — or that the SUV we see belongs to Dun Meng).
Exculpation in Spades (in My Opinion)
This video in fact constitutes exculpatory evidence for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Although the defense did not say so in court, they had filed many motions before the trial, demanding, as law provides, that the prosecutor hand over any exculpatory evidence
These motions were ultimately DENIED by US District Judge George A. O’Toole – a point that is itself shock and inexplicable.
Note: the direct examination of Dun Meng was ‘performed’ by none other than US Attorney Steven D Mellin. I invite you to check who this great attorney is.
Now then, with 16 cameras that take fair and accurate video of what they’re pointed at, why did the government choose to show such a flimsy piece of evidence? And why didn’t the defense take advantage of it?
I think the defense is trying to confound the jurors by not pointing out the poor evidence being displayed. And their only cross-examination of Dun Meng was about a cell phone call that Tamerlan would have made at the time he was (supposedly) in the car with Dun Meng. They did nothing to challenge the gas station videos.
Stephen Silva testified that he and Dzhokhar were regular customers at that particular Shell Food Mart, perhaps 3 times a week. So of course it would have been easy for the government to obtain video footage of Dzhokhar wandering around in the Shell Food Mart shopping for snacks.
Cambridge police officer Michael Nickerson was next called to the stand. He testified that he was dispatched at 12:19 a.m. to 816 Memorial Drive from a report of a carjacking.
He said the carjacking victim was very scared. You could tell that something — you know, he was a victim of something. He was very — you could tell he was scared. Etcetera!
When prosecutor Weinreb asked Nickerson what the victim told him, for some reason Defense attorney Miriam Conrad reacted with an objection that was surprisingly sustained by the Judge.
Then something odd took place in the courtroom. When Weinreb asked Officer Nickerson what the victim told him with respect to the car, Ms. Conrad objected again, even though she is supposedly on the defense team.
According to Officer Nickerson, Dun Meng had said he got carjacked and he gave information about the car (description and plate number, the fact that it had an Mbrace GPS, etc.).
But unbelievably Danny never told Nickerson that the two persons who carjacked him were none other than the Boston Marathon bombers and the ones that killed the MIT Police Officer.
Did Officer Nickerson almost blow it for the Government when asked the following question?
Q. When you called in the information about the car, the license plate and the description, what was the purpose of that?
A. To notify the units out in the city of — to be on the lookout for that vehicle so we could, you know, apprehend the people.
My guess is that he was about to say ‘the city of Watertown’! Why mention a particular city when the entire surrounding of Boston was looking for the bombers? What I am hinting here, and it is only speculation, is that if Nickerson knew, at this early stage (12.30-ish) that “Watertown” was going to be involved, we’re talking about a planned event, a set-up.
The Eyes of Camera 1
There’s something else about the government’s Exhibit 748, the one we linked to above that portrays action at the gas pump. Camera 1, according to the exhibit, is the camera that captured the SUV pulling in at the pump when it is vacated by a motorcycle. It shows a person (who looks like Dzhokhar) exiting from the front passenger seat, But it also shows a police cruiser go by. I don’t know what to make of that.
Another suspicious aspect of this piece of evidence submitted to court (with all due promises under perjury that it is genuine) is that Dun Meng said that the SUV was parked at pump 5, although the video shown the SUV was parked at pump 6. Were there two black SUV’s on the scene?
But the strangest thing is that camera 1 also captures Dzhokhar shopping for snacks inside the Food Mart! Perhaps someone should tell Alan Mednick, the owner of the Shell Food Mart, that he does not need to pay for 16 surveillance camera since camera 1 not only captures the exterior but also the interior of his premises….
Date Stamp, Anyone?
As for there being no date/time stamp on the exhibit – What is the purpose of video surveillance camera if it cannot tell the exact date and time it is capturing a possible crime? Prosecutor Weinreb questions Allan Mednick about the timing:
Q. Do you know approximately what time of the evening is captured on this video?
A. It was approximately twelve-fifteen, twelve o’clock, somewhere around there. It was midnight, somewhere around there.
I should also like to offer – but this is just my opinion – that the young man doing the shopping sometimes appears to be the real Jahar but at other times appears to be a different person, maybe a stooge. I presume facial-recognition technology could verify the identity of these men.
Conclusion – for Now
Most of all, this government Exhibit 748 is very important as it demonstrates prosecutorial misconduct. They have ‘manipulated’ the evidence to suit their narrative.
Wonderfully, at the same time, it is exculpatory evidence for Jahar. I mean the very fact that the authorities would mess up the video is good enough for an acquittal. And if I am right about Jahar being shown as exiting from the front door, rather than the back door – per Dun’s testimony – then Dun has perjured himself.
A final point. I must inject a concern that has been developing for some time. I think the jurors are not playing it straight. There’s something off in their behaviour. All of us have watched innumerable courtroom dramas on TV. Everybody knows that the defense always presses the prosecution’s witnesses to try to poke holes in their story. But not in the Boston Marathon case!
Surely one, or many, of the Boston jurors should have said “What is going on here?” I am astonished that they failed to find Dzhokhar Tsarnaev not guilty of the crime of kidnapping and carjacking Dun Meng. I think I may ask Juror 83 since he has already come forward.
Will let you know if I find out any good explanation. But don’t hold your breath.
— Josée Lépine got involved in the Marathon case as an ordinary citizen who simply could not believe the things being purveyed by the media. We welcome her to Gumshoe.