It will be recalled that Sources Familiar With The Investigation told the media a few days after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s capture that while recovering from wounds in a hospital he confessed to investigators that he and his brother had carried out the Boston marathon bombings as revenge for “the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” This was widely reported, and contributed to a marked public perception that he was indeed guilty.

It will also be recalled that, after questions were raised as to whether that alleged confession would be admissible in court because it was allegedly given prior to Tsarnaev being read his Miranda rights, the SFWTI told the media that just before his capture he left a written confession and justification on the side of the boat where he was found.

{And it will be recalled by people most attentive to the case that his brother Tamerlan allegedly confessed as well to the person whose car the brothers are accused of hijacking.)

Well, he disagrees. Yesterday he was arraigned on a 30 count indictment (I have discussed this document here), which includes the bombings and other alleged crimes, and which cites the last two purported confessions, although not the first, as background information. He pled NOT GUILTY to all charges.

There was some confusion last month as to whether Tsarnaev really said he was innocent in a phone call to his mother, but there is no doubt that he said so yesterday. It was his statement, not his attorney’s. She had wanted to enter the pleas on his behalf (perhaps because it is still painful for him to speak), but the judge would not accept that.

To be sure, Tsarnaev said this in what some have described as a nonchalant manner; others, a smirking one. This angered some of the spectators, mostly drawn from invited police and bombing victims, as did his weeping sisters anger others. (I have not seen recorded the reaction of those from the international “free jahar” movement who were present.)

But that is going to have to be their problem. He says he didn’t do it. (Those who insist that he did and that his denial is outrageous might ask themselves, among other things, why all those surveillance video shots of him prior to the bombs going off show him carrying his backpack casually slung over one shoulder rather than on his back, if it really contained a 30 lb bomb.)

It would appear that the battle is joined.

E. F. Beall

E. F. Beall