Texts, laptop files in focus at Boston Marathon bombing trial

On Monday, the jury saw text messages that the prosecution says accused Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sent to a friend after the deadly 2013 attack.

Jane Flavell Collins/AP
In this courtroom sketch, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, right, and defense attorney Judy Clarke are depicted watching evidence displayed on a monitor during his federal death penalty trial Monday, March 9, 2015, in Boston.

Jurors in the trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were shown text messages on Monday that prosecutors say he sent to a friend shortly after the attack, saying: "U saw the news?... Better not text me my friend."

FBI computer specialist Kevin Swindon said the texts came from Tsarnaev's iPhone and were sent to Dias Kadyrbayev, a school friend from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, who has since pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for removing evidence from Tsarnaev's dorm room. Swindon said he identified the texts from a backup file on Tsarnaev's laptop.

In testimony last week, Swindon said copies of Al Qaeda's "Inspire" magazine were found on his laptop, including one titled: "How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom."

Defense attorneys have admitted that the 21-year-old defendant committed all the crimes he is accused of, but are trying to spare his life in the capital case by arguing that Tsarnaev's brother was the mastermind of the attacks.

On Monday, defense attorney William Fick grilled Swindon in cross-examination in an attempt to point out that it was unclear where the files on Tsarnaev's computer originated, and that there was a chance some were placed there by Tamerlan or others.

Tsarnaev is accused of killing three people and injuring 264 with a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs at the race's crowded finish line on April 15, 2013, and with fatally shooting a police officer three days later as he and his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, tried to flee the city.

Tamerlan died following a gunfight with police later that night and Dzhokhar was arrested after a homeowner in the suburb of Watertown found him hiding in a boat in his backyard. He left a note in that boat suggesting that the attacks were an act of retribution for US military campaigns in Muslim-dominated countries and that he viewed his brother as a martyr.

Fick asked Swindon on Monday about a thumb drive investigators had found at a landfill along with other items belonging to Dzhokhar, which contained files on how to make explosives: "Isn't it true that every file and folder on this drive was created by Tamerlan's computer?"

"I don't know," Swindon replied.

Fick also asked Swindon whether the files he discussed in court represented a "fly speck" of data held on the laptop, which was otherwise filled with files like homework assignments and pop music clips. Swindon said he needed a definition of "fly speck."

Prosecutors introduced terrorism expert Matthew Levitt, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as a witness on Monday. Levitt said the bombing fit into a broader "global jihad movement" that encourages violence targeting the United States.

"Do you have to be in a terrorist group to be part of the movement?" Assistant US Attorney Aloke Chakravarty asked.

"No, by definition, you don't," Levitt said. "You can get your indoctrination, your motivation, your schooling, online."

The bombing killed restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29, graduate student Lingzi Lu, 23, and 8-year-old Martin Richard. Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 27, was shot dead three days later.

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