Tsarnaev Defense Revisits His Middle Finger

Lawyer contends gesture wasn't as sinister as prosecution alleges
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2015 6:57 PM CDT

Jurors deciding whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will live or die are suddenly being asked to pay a lot of attention to an image of him flipping the bird. Yesterday, prosecutors showed jurors the image, taken from video in his jail cell three months after the bombing, and cast it as the gesture of an "unrepentant" bomber sending another message to Americans. Today, though, his defense team showed jurors video footage from which it came and suggested it was nowhere near as sinister as prosecutors say, reports the New York Times. In the video, Tsarnaev moves close to the camera—which attorney Miriam Conrad likened to a mirror because of its reflective cover—and began adjusting his hair. At one point, he makes a sideways V sign, followed by the middle finger alone.

The judge did not allow Conrad to give her interpretation of what Tsarnaev meant by the gestures, declaring that the video should stand on its own. "How old was he at that time?" she asked an assistant US marshal on the stand, reports AP. When he responded he didn't know, Conrad said, "You didn't know that he was 19 years old?" A friend of the bomber's tells the Boston Globe that he doesn't think Tsarnaev was sending a vile message, adding that the sideways V was more of a goofy gesture that their friends sometimes used in photos. (Read more Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stories.)

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