BOSTON (AP) — A video played Thursday at the trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev showed a mother crouched over her 8-year-old son as he lay dying on the sidewalk, a scene prosecutors hoped would linger in jurors’ minds while they determine whether Tsarnaev lives or dies.
Prosecutors rested their case after playing the video during the testimony of a man who lost his leg in the bombings, and jurors watched as the mother pleaded with her little boy.
“I heard ‘please’ and ‘Martin’ being uttered by Denise Richard,” said Steve Woolfenden, who was lying on the pavement next to Martin and his mother after the second bomb exploded. “Just pleading with her son.”
The boy bled to death.
Prosecutors presented the testimony and searing images to give the jury one last reminder of the brutality and heartbreaking consequences of the bombings before the defense begins to present its case next week. Prosecutors argue Tsarnaev, now 21, deserves to be executed for his crimes, while his lawyers say his life should be spared because his late older brother, Tamerlan, was the mastermind of the attack.
Woolfenden’s left leg was sheared off below the knee. He described frantically trying to get his 3-year-old son, Leo, out of his stroller after he heard him screaming and saw he was bleeding from the side of his head. As he lay helpless on the pavement, he spotted Martin and Denise Richard.
“I saw Martin’s face,” Woolfenden said. “I could see a boy that was, looked like he was fatally injured.”
Three people were killed and more than 260 others were wounded when the bombs exploded near the finish line of the marathon on April 15, 2013.
Tsarnaev was convicted this month of all 30 charges against him. The jury that found him guilty must decide whether to sentence him to life in prison or to death.
Also Thursday, several relatives of Tsarnaev, who’s originally from Kyrgyzstan, flew into Boston, according to a law enforcement official who wasn’t authorized to release that information and spoke on the condition of anonymity. Tsarnaev’s mother, who faces a 2012 shoplifting charge in a Boston suburb, was not among them, the official said.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers are scheduled to begin presenting their witnesses on Monday, and some of his relatives may be called to the stand.
Woolfenden described the terror he felt as he tried to help his son while trying to stanch blood pouring from his own leg.
“I took off my belt, and I applied it on my thigh as tight as I possibly could,” he said. “Leo was crying and screaming uncontrollably. He was saying, ‘Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy.'”
A bystander came over and offered help.
Woolfenden said he told the man, “Please get my son to safety.”
The man tied another tourniquet on Woolfenden’s leg and then took his son.
“I was completely terrified because I didn’t know if I was ever going to see my son again,” he said.
Leo was hospitalized with a skull fracture, lacerations, small burns and a perforated eardrum.
An FBI field photographer, Michelle Gamble, showed the jury a paper mock-up of a metal grate where Tsarnaev placed the second bomb. She said the bomb exploded about 3 1/2 feet from Martin Richard.
Trauma surgeon Dr. David King testified Martin didn’t die instantly and his liver, spleen and intestines were painfully twisted and stretched by the blast.
Martin’s parents recently said they want the Department of Justice to take the death penalty off the table in exchange for a life sentence and Tsarnaev agreeing to give up his rights to appeal.
Also testifying Thursday was Heather Abbott, whose left leg was amputated after the bombing.
Abbott, of Newport, Rhode Island, said she was catapulted through the entrance of a restaurant when the second bomb exploded. She said her foot felt as though it were on fire, so she began crawling through the restaurant to follow a crowd of people trying to get away.
Later, in a hospital, a doctor recommended amputating her left leg below the knee. Her heel had been blown off, and her foot was severely damaged.
“It was probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” she said.
Abbott identified photos of 16 other people who lost limbs. The photos showed the amputees wearing prosthetic limbs, in wheelchairs and on crutches.
Another amputee, Marc Fucarile, testified from a wheelchair and glared at Tsarnaev as he sat about 10 feet away with his lawyers. Tsarnaev did not look at him and stared straight ahead impassively.
Fucarile, whose right leg was blown off, said he has had more than 60 surgeries. Two years after the bombing, it’s still unclear whether his left leg can be saved, he said.
“We are going to try,” he said.
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