Boston Marathon Bombings: A Legal Interpretation
The two explosions that tore through the Boston Marathon nearly two years ago were like the second starting gun on April 15, 2013, a race against time to identify and capture the terrorists responsible. Bostonians were relived after an extensive manhunt ended in the apprehension of the Boston Marathon suspects, but which raised a host of legal issues including the potential consequence of authorities’ decision not to read Tsarnaev his Miranda rights, how might he be charged due to skewed media bias, and whether his case would be moved outside Boston to ensure a fair trial. The importance of these issues answer many controversial questions regarding the reach of the ambiguous legal system.
April 15, 2013 marked the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon. The event is held on Patriot’s Day, which commemorates the beginning of the Revolutionary War in 1775. At approximately 2:49 PM, with more than 5,600 of some 23,000 runners still in the race, two pressure-cooker bombs – packed with an assortment of “metal and ball-bearings” hidden in backpacks placed amidst the crowd – exploded within seconds of each other near the finish line (Leger). Chaos ensued as three spectators died: a 23-year-old woman, a 29-year-old woman and an 8-year-old boy, and leaving more than 250 injured (Kotz). A team of more than 1,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement agents formed to quickly gather and analyze the surmounting videos and photographs. Within two days, a breakthrough was made when FBI analysts pinpointed two male suspects, whose identities were then unknown, that they believed to be connected to the bombings. On the evening April 18, authorities released camera images of these suspects to the public. The emphasis that “these images should be the only ones—the only ones—that the public should view” was greatly due to the misleading headlines of many news outlets in days earlier, diverting the public’s attention in the wrong direction (FBI Boston). A few hours after the photos were released, the Tsarnaev brothers allegedly shot and killed MIT police officer, Sean Collier, in attempt to take his gun, which they could not obtain due to the holster’s retention system (Miller). Shortly after Officer Collier was gunned down, the two allegedly carjacked an SUV and took the owner hostage, forcing him to withdraw money from an ATM (Cullen). Stopping at a gas station, the hostage was able to flee and contact 911 to inform them of his captors and the location of his SUV, which they could be tracked by his cell phone’s GPS location, which was still in the vehicle. Shortly after midnight, Watertown police spotted the suspects in their vehicles and attempted to apprehend them. Watertown Police Chief Ed Deveau stated, “a gunfight with explosives, including an identical pressure-cooker bomb and some “crude grenades”, quickly ensued between the brothers and six Watertown police office”(Arsenault). After police tackled Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allegedly drove the stolen SUV straight at them, running over his brother before speeding away. Deciding to abandon the SUV, younger brother Dzhokhar fled on foot shortly after furthering injuries to his brother. Tamerlan was pronounced dead at a hospital. On April 19, 2013, the Boston area was locked down as the manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev began with door-to-door searches and military-style patrols on the streets. The manhunt ended that evening, two hours after the shelter-in-place order had been lifted, when a resident of Watertown noticed that the cover on his land-docked boat was loose. Noticing a bodying lying in a pool of blood, he immediately notified authorities (Anderson). After quickly surrounding the boat and a short burst of gunfire from police, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was apprehended.
Upon arrival into custody, younger brother Dzhokhar had the public safety exception...
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