By Cheryl Dean
There have been many written confessions to crimes over the centuries, but this is perhaps the first one that used a boat-wall in lieu of paper. The phrase “any port in a storm” comes to mind.
Confessions are very important as ways of persuading the public that there is no need to delve deeply into the case.
The public of Boston does in fact think that Dzhokhar (“Jahar”) Tsarnaev confessed, but that is incorrect.
How Can Jahar Prove He Is Innocent?
Jahar never pleaded guilty to any aspect of the Marathon bombing or the killing of MIT cop Sean Collier. His lawyer, Judy Clarke, announced “It was him” but I think she did that without any approval from him. Remember, a lawyer is supposed to take instructions from a client, not the other way around.
It would have helped the Prosecution if there were a confession. It would even have been nice to have a written one. This could be displayed in the event that “the gunman” got killed in a gunfight – or as is said in many cases “turned the gun on himself.”
Let us recall how easy it was for the FBI to arrange for the Marathon case to record a “confession” from the older brother Tamerlan, who is now deceased. They said he made his confession (in the Confessional of the front seat of a carjacked car) to a student, Dun (“Danny”) Meng. (The “defense team” could have cross-examined the daylights out of Dun Meng but did not!)
As for the younger Tsarnaev, Jahar, he did his confessing – apparently addressed to the public – by writing it on the wall of a boat. In pencil yet. While very injured and bleeding. Is there no limit to what people are asked to believe?
According to the official story, Dzhokhar had just been in a gunfight with police, around 1.00am on April 19, and had done the astonishing thing of driving over his brother Tamerlan, perhaps killing him. But “he escaped”. (Think about it: could a 19-year-old successfully run away from dozens of cops?) I note that a movie called “Patriot’s Day” is now being made to further “record” the history of these things.
What the Jurors Saw
What is the actual evidence that Dzhokhar wrote a confession on the boat wall? Let’s look at what testimony was provided in court, and various exhibits.
According to the prosecution, Jahar found a tool box, and began carving and writing messages. They say he carved on the wooden slats beside the fiberglass panel. The message on the wooden slats is:
“Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop”
The tool kit (below) looks very clean as though it had never been used (or recently bought). The owner does not recall if the tools were lying visible or if he had closed the box before storing the boat, with the tarpaulin cover, for northern winter.
There is also a pair of sharper nosed pliers that are out of place. You might expect these pliers to have some wood shavings or blood on them, or the bottle.
The prosecution claims that “the suspect” also wrote a note — with pencil — on the fiberglass panel.
This picture was taken the day after Jahar was pulled from the boat
Among the court exhibits was the pencil allegedly used to write the “boat note confession.”
The pointy pencil that never became blunt
That sure looks like a very sharp point for a pencil that had just written a long note on a surface that would be extremely hard to write on (if even possible)!
Also the blood still looks very red. (As blood dries, it turns a brownish color).
In the note Jahar indicates that his bro has gone to heaven. But how did he know that Tamerlan was dead? – they had been together hours earlier.
Many critics have said that Jahar could not have known, when he was in the boat, that his brother had “died.” (Or was killed in custody, as the case may be.)
For me, this ‘error’ suggests that the note is not genuine. And what is even more compelling is that these boat notes were not revealed to the public until May 16, 2013. This was after the alleged hospital “confession” was deemed not allowed to be used in court. The prosecution desperately needed something else. Need I say more.
Well, yes, I will say more. I think it is reasonable to be suspicious of the testimony given by FBI agent Michael Nealon who was in charge of the Evidence Response Team, no less.
Prosecutor Nadine Pellegrini: Were you present when they (the wooden slats) were removed (from the boat)?
Nealon: I don’t recall if I was there.
Do you agree that that is very odd — that in the biggest terrorist case since 9-11, this guy doesn’t know if he was there when vitally important incriminating evidence is found and removed from the boat?
Another major doubt is raised in my mind by the condition of the toolbox. We can see the power and force of the stun grenades when they were lobbed into the boat (in the video I described in Part 1). So we should expect that the toolbox would have suffered. But it remains very clean with nothing out of place including a spotless white plastic bottle.
The Content of the “Confession”
The wording of the item, interrupted by the occasional bullet hole, is:
I’m jealous of my brother who
ha [hole] ceived the reward of jannutul Firdaus (inshallah)
before me. I do not mourn because his soul is
very much alive. God has a plan for each person.
Mine was to hide in his boat and shed some
light on our actions I ask Allah to make me a
shahied (iA) to allow me to return to him and
be among all the righteous people in the highest levels
He who Allah guides no one can misguide
A [hole] bar!
I bear witness that there is no God but Allah
and that Muhammad is his
messenger [hole] r actions came
with [hole] a [hole] ssage and that
is [hole] ha Illalah. The U.S.
Government is killing our innocent
civilians but most of you already
know that. As a M[hole] I can’t
stand to see such evil go unpunished
(You have to guess whether “As a M” means “as a Man” “as a Moral Person” or “as a a Muslim.” Bostonians didn’t spend too much time analyzing…)
- Cheryl Dean is GumshoeNews’s main contributor to analysis of the Boston Marathon case. To see her other articles, and those of Josée Lépine and Mary Maxwell, click on “Boston” at the top of GumshoeNews’ website.