Exhibit 948-231 – The Ruger as it was found at the crime scene in Watertown.
By Mary W Maxwell, LLB
A Boston woman, Heather Frizzell, has been working hard on the Marathon bombing trial. In this article I summarize what she has learned about the gun allegedly used by the Tsarnaev brothers to kill the 28-year-old MIT campus cop, Sean Collier.
This is urgent stuff: Jahar’s appeal is coming up very soon and it’s curtains if he doesn’t win. Heather says:
“After months of pouring over the eyewitness testimony and studying the location in question, I am confident of one thing: the person who appeared at Collier’s [car] window with a gun wasn’t Tsarnaev.”
The research published by Ms Frizzell is lengthy so I will only recap it here. First, the dramatis personae of the gun story:
— Jahar, a student at UMass, Dartmouth (which is an hour’s drive south of Boston).
— Stephen Silva, his close friend since eighth grade. At the time of these events they are both age 20 or so. Silva lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts (I will refrain from saying “Assachusetts” today, out of respect for Ms Frizzell who is very precise and cautious.) Silva is the man who allegedly lent a gun – a Ruger P95 handgun — to Jahar.
— Howie, real name: Merhawi Berhe, the man who allegedly lent that gun to Stephen (Howie is thus the grandfather of the gun that shot Collier, so to speak).
— Dias, Jahar’s pal who is doing 6 years for having “obstructed the investigation of Jahar’s terrorism” by dumping a backpack or a laptop in a dumpster.
— Steven Silva, the twin bro of Stephen Silva, no joke (same age) – doesn’t figure much in the story. Heather vouchsafes to say SILVA, no first name, when she means Stephen. OK?
— US Attorney Aloke Chakravarty, the prosecutor (seconding Carmen Ortiz) in the 2015 trial of Jahar.
— Miriam Conrad, the defense attorney (seconding Judy Clarke) in the 2015 trial of Jahar.
— Abdul, no surname, makes a cameo appearance if you’re really paying attention
— Dad, retired lawyer, Thomas Frizzell, father of Heather, whom she often mentions as giving technical advice to her.
This article is all taken from Frizzell’s “Who Killed Sean Collier: Part Two, the Gun” It’s forty pages long. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
- There is a need to trace the chain of custody of the weapon.
- After Jahar was imprisoned, Dias got imprisoned and is not exactly contactable.
- Jahar is extremely uncontactable (he may be the most uncontactable person in America today) – and if he were contacted, chances are he would be loyal to his friend Silva and not upset the applecart. (Mary)
Note: Heather does not speculate, so I will try to hold back. If it bursts out of me I will write “Mary” in parentheses as above.
- Silva was arrested after Jahar went to prison, he was charged with major drug dealing, and was threatened with more than a hundred years in jail.
To anticipate the next bit, think what you would do if you were charged like that but your trial had not come up yet. Hint: it rhymes with flea bargain. (Mary)
- Silva alleges that Jahar asked, in January 2013, to borrow the gun that Howie had lent to Silva, and then Jahar failed to return it by the Marathon date of April 15, 2013. (Ah, sweet innuendo of life, at last I’ve found you.)
January is the same month the Tsarnaev’s rode off to Saugus Mall to buy, without using a credit card or anything traceable, the five mythical pressure cookers. (Mary)
- In a move that “Dad” calls “giving away the courthouse,” the government entity prosecuting drug-dealer Silva decides to forego the pleasure of catching a drug crim and lets him off, in exchange for pinning the gun on Jahar Tsarnaev. Natch.
- Hence, Silva shows up as a witness for the prosecution at the trial of his dear buddy Jahar and does what we used to call in Catechism class “a Judas.” (Mary)
- Heather fine-tooth-combs the Silva case file and discovers that the evidence Silva presented was gossamer-like and the pretend-prosecutors did not ask the right questions. (Dad)
- Gun laws in Massachusetts are unusually strict. You can go to jail, for example, for being in possession of a “dirty” gun, that is, one that has a history of having been used for violent crime even if you had nothing to do with that.
- Howie, of all people, got arrested at a stunningly significant moment.
Heather says: “The murder weapon was a Ruger P95 handgun with the serial number filed off, recovered from the shootout in Watertown,
[Noooooooooo, noooooooo (Mary)]
the gun that was in Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s possession. This was established at trial through testimony, and Massachusetts State Police reports also match the ballistics from the Ruger to the bullets recovered from Collier’s body…. (Oh-oh ballistics – Mary)
Late 2012: “Near the end of 2012 — the timestamp provided by Mr. Chakravarty, not Silva — an opportunity arose to get a gun.” Howie asks Silva to mind the offending object, as he was worried his mother would search his room, as mothers do.
Once Silva has it, he thinks, “I could have some fun with this.” So, he sits in a car when customer comes to buy drugs off him, takes their money, does not hand over the drugs and then threatens to kill them if they don’t am-scray quick smart. (Heather notes that this is no way for a merchant to build up good will in the buying community.)
— December, 2012 : A man’s gotta show off, so Silva boasts at a party to having carried off the deed. A laugh is heard from Jahar, who is at the putative party – and wait till you see how putative Heather thinks it is; she almost loses her conservatism over this one.
When friends, including Jahar were in Silva’s apartment he showed them where he kept the gun, in a ceiling panel. (Just wondering if anyone remembers the Martin Bryant twenty-guns-in-the-white-piano story) (Mary).
Jahar does not at that moment say “I want to borrow it.” He says it on a different day when there are no party-goers. i.e., no witnesses to hear him say it. Natch.
— January 23-ish, 2012: At some later time Jahar goes to Silva’s house, having made no phone call or text message to check that Silva is home. (Recall Dartmouth is an hour’s drive, to pick up this new toy.) Heather refers to Jahar and his cohort as “of the millennial generation that puts everything into a text, a tweet, a chat, etc.” Yet the court never sees any of that confirmatory evidence.
Subsequent to Jahar’s borrowing the gun, and with nary a query from Silva as to whether the young Chechen has actually deployed the damn thing, Silva asks Jahar to return it “because Howie is wanting it again.” (The Mom coast is clear.)
— March, 2013: Jahar, in training for the Marathon as it were, is busy and keeps putting Silva off as to when he can hand it over. So spake Silva to the prosecution team (or was it the defense team? In this trial they are more identical than Steve and Stephen).
April 15, 2013 – Income tax day; Jeff Bauman goes to hospital, etc.; also it’s Patriot’s Day. New movie by that name coming out soon to justify the event known as Jahar’s execution. (Heather) (But Heather did not state that so crudely.)
As Heather Tells It
I will now state some of the above quoting Heather and the various principals in the case. But if you are pressed for time, hop to the bottom where she springs quite the denouement.
[Prosecutor at Jahar’s 2015 trial elicits the gulch from Silva:]
Q – Explain that opportunity.
A – Well, like I said, me and my brother and my friend [Nicholas Silva, who is a cousin whose sibling got beat up and so wanted a weapon type thing] had been talking about obtaining a gun.
Around the same time a friend of mine from my neighborhood [the elusive Howie], asked me if I could do him a favor and hold down a firearm for him because he needed to get it out of his house.
Q – What was his name?
A – Howie.
“Nothing is given about the transfer of the gun from Howie to SilvA – We also know nothing about who might have seen the gun change hands. However, from Silva’s testimony, he then “stored it away in my apartment, in a ceiling panel”, and states that the people who know about it are “my twin, my friend and a few close associates”. So that means Steven, Nicholas and “a few close associates” could have all been called to testify to corroborate Silva’s story. But the mysterious associates never appeared at trial.”
Q – Did you tell the defendant?
A – Yes.
Q – What was his reaction when you told him that you had a gun?
A – It wasn’t much of a reaction. He just acknowledged it.
A – When I got down to Florida I just hung out at a friend’s house and continued selling weed.
Q – How long did you do that for?
A – From about the middle of August until the end of November.
Q – November 2012? …
A – At that time I came back from Florida, my brother [SteVen] and friend had an apartment in Revere, Massachusetts.
Q – Did you take the gun out of your residence again?
A – Yes, one more time.
Q – When was that?
A – New Year’s Eve 2012.
Q – And where did you take it?
A – To a friend’s apartment in Medford, Massachusetts.
Q – What was happening there?
A – Nothing. We were just throwing a New Year’s Eve party.
Q – Why did you take it there?
A – I was just being stupid. I wanted to show it off.
Q – And did you?
A – Yes.
Q – Did the defendant come to that house?
A – Yes.
Heather always looks into these thing in detail: “It’s happening on a specific date for a specific occasion, meaning many of the attendees would be likely to remember whether they were there and that someone might have shown off a gun.”
Then Heather looks at the boys’ tweets. “That’s strange. Here Silva is saying he has the flu and isn’t planning to go out for New Year’s Eve, which directly contradicts the story he gave in court. Not only that, but their exchange seems to imply that Dzhokhar doesn’t have plans to go out either. …”
Q – When you talked to him about the gun, did he ask you for anything?
A – Yes.
Q – What did he ask you for?
A – He asked me to potentially borrow the gun….
Q – Did he tell you why he needed the gun?
A – Yes.
Q – What did he tell you?
A – He said he wanted to rip some kids from URI.
Q – When you say “rip,” what does that mean?
A – Rob.
Q – Is that what you did with Nicholas a few months earlier?
A – Yes.
“Silva has never seen an aggressive streak in Dzhokhar. On Miriam Conrad’s cross, she points out”:
Q – And he [Jahar] wasn’t violent, right?
A – No. I’ve never seen him violent.
Q – And he never picked on anybody?
A – No.
Q – He was kindhearted?
A – Yes, he was.
Q – Now, this robbery that you told us about, you — that you did?
A – Yes.
Q – You didn’t tell the Feds about that the first, second, third or even fourth time that you sat down with them, did you?
A – Initially, no, I did not.
Q – In fact, what you told them was that you didn’t believe in sticking people up?
A – Yes, I did.
[Miriam fails to yell Liar, liar, pants on fire at this juncture.]
Q – And, in fact, you told them that you had never discussed a robbery with anyone before Jahar asked to borrow the gun, right?
A – Yes.
Q – Was he with anyone?
A – Yes, he was.
Q – Who was he with?
A – Dias.
“At the time of Silva’s testimony, Dias was in federal custody awaiting sentencing — a perfect witness to corroborate Silva’s story.” But he might as well have been in Timbuktu. (Mary)
“Then Silva arrives at the last time he saw Dzhokhar before the Marathon. By now, it’s early April and he has still not received the Ruger back, but has made no more statements about what Howie was doing during this time. In fact, according to Silva, this was a brief meeting in which Dzhokhar purchased some weed.”
“It’s difficult to track the prosecution’s view of Dzhokhar’s marijuana usage, because at different times during the trial they either used evidence that he had cut back on smoking as a sign of radicalization, or evidence that he dealt on campus as a symptom of bad character.” [See? Heather, in the tradition of Cheryl Dean and Josée Lépine, picks up every nuance.]
A – When I got back I put the marijuana in the — Dias’ car’s trunk, and then I talked to the defendant [best mate] very shortly. He wasn’t really talking to me much. I was trying to get into a deeper conversation with him but he said he was in a rush.
And I asked him about the gun and he gave me another excuse on why he couldn’t — why he didn’t bring it that day. And then I remember Dias saying, “Oh, we’re in a rush, we’re in a rush.” So I only talked to him for a little bit, told the defendant, you know, I loved him [!! That was before…], and then I got out of the car.
Heather Frizzell’s Big Find
“On March 25th I woke up and saw a Boston Globe article with the headline ‘Source of Gun Used by Tsarnaevs to Kill Sean Collier Pleads Guilty.’ I told my Dad and he wanted more: What was the plea agreement? Was there an indictment? What exactly were the charges? When did they take him in?
“I was able to log onto the district court’s website and pull a few relevant documents. The guilty plea agreement hadn’t been filed yet, but the indictment and the court docket were there. The charge was very strange. It was only one count of possession of the Ruger P95 handgun. There was nothing about the transfer of the gun to Silva, which would be a separate charge.”
“[Recall that] Silva, in July 2014, was arrested for seven counts of heroin possession with intent to distribute, and one count of possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number, also known as Sean Collier’s murder weapon.
“And indeed, in December 2015, Silva was given a hearing, and received a sentence of time served. After seventeen months, he was free, despite multiple instances of heroin distribution, because he had ‘substantially assisted.’
“On the same day, at the same time, in the same courthouse, one floor apart, as Stephen Silva testified that he received the Ruger P95 that killed Officer Sean Collier from him, Merhawi Berhe was pleading not guilty to possessing the very same weapon.”
Heather is continuing the saga at her website:
— Mary W Maxwell, and the Editor of Gumshoe Dee McLachlan, welcome new pieces about the Tsarnaev case.