The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

July 10, 2013

Bombing suspect heads to first public court hearing

— BOSTON (AP) — Survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing will watch as the young man who could face the death penalty for the attack appears in court for the first time since he was found bleeding and hiding in a boat in a suburb days after the April 15 explosion.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's arraignment was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Boston. He has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction in the bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 260.

The courthouse is expected to be jammed for 19-year-old Tsarnaev's appearance. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office said space is being reserved in the main courtroom for victims' families, but she wouldn't indicate how many planned to attend. Court officials have set aside an overflow courtroom to broadcast the hearing for the media.

Reporters and spectators began lining up for seats in the courtroom at 7:30 a.m. as a dozen Federal Protective Service officers and bomb-sniffing dogs surrounded the courthouse.

Four hours before the hearing, Tsarnaev arrived at the courthouse in a four-vehicle motorcade that included a van, a Humvee and a state police car.

A group of about a dozen Tsarnaev supporters cheered as the motorcade arrived. The demonstrators yelled "Justice for Jahar," as Tsarnaev is known. One woman held a sign that said, "Free Jahar."

Lacey Buckley, 23, said she traveled from her home in Wenatchee, Wash., to attend the arraignment. Buckley said she has never met Tsarnaev but came because she believes he's innocent. "I just think so many of his rights were violated. They almost murdered an unarmed kid in a boat," she said.

Brittney Gillis, a student at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, where Tsarnaev attended, came to the courthouse because she wanted to see the suspect. She said he used to walk her friend home in the evenings because he was worried about her being alone.

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