Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s teachers and friends testify that he was a shy and caring person
After several days of testimony from various witnesses who testified regarding how one dimensional, domineering and unpleasant Tamerlan Tsarnaev could be, the defense focused today on Dzhokhar (Jahar) Tsarnaev. They presented testimony from his teachers in elementary and high school who described him as an intelligent, quiet and hard working student whom they regarded with respect, love and affection. He was special in a way that other students were not and their affection, despite what he did, was apparent in court for the jury to see and contemplate.
Brendan Kells is a teacher and baseball coach at Cambridge Rindge and Latin where Jahar went to high school. He teaches U.S. history, sociology and economics. He also oversees the model United Nations program that Jahar joined. The program is for academically motivated and successful students who are interested in the sorts of world issues that are debated at the UN. Jahar participated in the project hosted by Harvard University during the 2010-2011 school year.
The defense also called two female friends, Alexa Guevarra and Tiarrah Dottin. Both girls considered him a close friend who was more respectful of girls than other boys. Both lost composure and cried several times while recalling what a true friend he was. Both described him as a special friend.
Many comments by reporters tweeting from the courtroom were rather cynical and dismissive of their testimony, but I believe the testimony credibly establishes that he was a good person before his brother took advantage of his willingness to be of service to people who mattered to him. Jahar may have lacked a solid anchor and ability to stand up to people, but he is not an evil cold blooded psychopath.
That distinction may save his life.