Confessions abound in the Marathon bombing case. A wounded, drugged and sleep-deprived Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allegedly spilled everything to a High Value Interrogation Team, but gave inconsistent answers. Ibragim Todashev, after a month of harassment and possibly after being beaten, confessed to helping Tamerlan kill the Waltham Three, but got the details totally wrong.

FBI agents have said that Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov confessed voluntarily, and that they were pleasant and friendly during questioning. The worst that happened to them, we are told, was that they were forced to give up their shirts on a chilly April night.

With new info gleaned from the recent pre-trial hearing, I decided to do a timeline of events to try to understand what was going on with these confessions. This wasn’t easy, as there are two distinctly different versions of the timeline for April 18-19.

Thursday, April 18: The FBI released pictures of the Tsarnaevs at 5 pm. Tamerlan contacted Jahar and told him to drive down to Boston. (IMHO, he said something like “We have to meet the Feds to deal with this misunderstanding.” But, that’s another story.)

A text from Jahar invited Dias to go to his room and “take what’s there.” In the Kadyrbayev/Tazhayakov criminal complaint, Scott Cieplik states that these “LOL” texts were sent between 8:43 pm and 8:48 pm. But in the very next paragraph, he presents an alternate timeline.

VERSION #1: Between 6 and 7 pm, Aza, Dias, and Robel Phillipos were let into Jahar’s dorm room by his roommate. They watched a movie. Then they noticed a backpack containing fireworks. Dias instantly “knew” that Jahar was the Marathon bomber. He removed the backpack, and also took Jahar’s laptop so that Jahar’s roommate wouldn’t think that Dias was stealing. (Say what??) After returning to the apartment shared by Dias and Aza, the three heard news reports identifying Jahar as one of the bombers. They panicked and dumped the backpack at 10 or 11 pm.

VERSION #2: At about 9 pm, after the “LOL” text exchange, Dias contacted the other two and asked them to meet him in Jahar’s room. They searched for, found and removed evidence. After a brief nap back at the apartment, Robel and Aza watched TV until 4 am on Friday, April 19. At about 6 am, the three dumped the backpack after seeing news reports about the Watertown events.

(Radio Free Europe reported that at 3:13 am, Dias posted a picture of himself and Jahar on a Russian social media site, calling Jahar his “brother.”)

Inconsistent confessions in this case? Check, check, and check. This reminds me of the Magic Flying Honda in the indictment against Jahar. I’m wondering why Cieplik didn’t at least consult with the roommate before writing the complaint.

April 19, afternoon: LE converged on Dias and Aza’s apartment, shouting “Jahar, you’re surrounded, come out!” This must have been before 5 pm, because shortly after 5, Mr. Henneberry tipped off the police to Jahar’s presence in his boat.

“The roommates were ordered at gunpoint to remove their shirts and walk backwards out of the apartment with hands in the air.” They were handcuffed “for their own protection,” although they were not under arrest; they were “witnesses.” Dias was still sitting in a patrol car when he learned from the police scanner that Jahar had been captured. That capture happened at 8:47 pm.

When they finally got to the state police barracks, the questioning began. After two hours, Dias allegedly admitted to removing evidence. Agent Schirilo says he informed him of his rights.

Dias asked “Do I need a lawyer?” and was told that was his decision. He was questioned without a lawyer for over three hours. A man who claimed to be an interested defense lawyer called the police barracks during the questioning, but Dias and Aza were never told about this.

April 20: The two roommates were arrested on immigration charges. B.Blake has reported that they were questioned for 48 hours and then given prepared statements, which they signed.

April 21: Jahar’s dorm room was searched. According to several official sources, a large pyrotechnic on the window sill was photographed and then confiscated. No explosive powder was noted in the report of this search. A chemist looked for areas for potential swabbing for explosives, but found none. Swabs taken during the April 19 search of Tamerlan’s apartment turned up no explosive residue.

April 26: LE recovered the backpack from a landfill. It reportedly contained fireworks, a jar of vaseline, and a homework assignment sheet from a course which Jahar was enrolled in. (Apparently his name was not on the sheet.) Assistant US Attorney B. Stephanie Sigmann has said that no DNA or fingerprints were found on any of these items.

May 1: Dias and Aza were charged with evidence-tampering.

Questions and Comments. Did Aza or Dias volunteer the information about taking the backpack; did the roommate tell LE about it; or did this emerge from leading questions?

Version 1 makes no sense if the timing of the texts is correct. Did Dias cannily invent it to confuse the issue; or, was he confused and suffering a language meltdown? I tend to vote for confusion, partly because of his nonsensical comment about not wanting the roommate to think they were stealing.

In Version 2: How did they know what to look for, based on Jahar’s vague instructions to “take what’s there”? And if smart enough to find the backpack, why did they leave behind the large pyrotechnic that was in plain view on the window sill?

Why did they sign the statements? Was there a carrot or a stick involved? Why were they allowed to sign statements which apparently contained contradictory information?

No DNA on the backpack or its contents? Would it have been compromised by being in the landfill? (It was inside a garbage bag.) Maybe someone has expert knowledge about this(?)

Status: At the pre-trial hearing, the judge denied bids by Aza and Robel to suppress their statements. Both declined to testify about their interrogation experience. Dias will testify about this issue, but not until the end of May, when a specialist will evaluate his language skills.

lauraw

lauraw

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