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Tsarnaev brother charged in deadly Marathon bombing

a criminal complaint filed Monday in Boston federal court, prosecutors alleged that Tsarnaev, 19, detonated a weapon of mass destruction,

Howard Manly

U.S. prosecutors charged the seriously wounded Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with carrying out one of the Boston Marathon bombings that ultimately left three people dead and more than 200 wounded, including a Transit police officer still clinging for life.

In a criminal complaint filed Monday in Boston federal court, prosecutors alleged that Tsarnaev, 19, detonated a weapon of mass destruction, and used an explosive to maliciously destroy property. The charges carry a possible death sentence if he is convicted.

A federal magistrate went to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where Tsarnaev is being treated for injuries to his head, neck, leg and hand that have left him unable to speak. With the exception of saying “no” when asked if he could afford an attorney, Tsarnaev has communicated with his interrogators in writing.

Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, 26, was the other bomber, according to U.S. authorities, and was killed during last week’s shootout with police. The brothers, ethnic Chechens from Russia, had been living in the U.S. for about a decade.

The indictment doesn’t include some of the state-level offenses for which Tsarnaev is a suspect, including the murder of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer and the wounding of another officer during a shootout.The Middlesex County Attorney General’s Office would handle a possible murder indictment.

The FBI affidavit cites video footage and photographs and gives the most complete official description yet of what happened in the bombings.

The video and photos show the two brothers carrying backpacks as they walk onto Boylston Street, the scene of the bombings, about 11 minutes before the first blast occurs at 2:49 p.m., the affidavit said.

At about 2:42 p.m., Tamerlan Tsarnaev, accused of planting the bomb that caused the first blast nearest the finish line, left his brother and was seen carrying the backpack that investigators believe contained the first bomb, according to the affidavit.

Three minutes later, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev walked toward the Forum restaurant and left a backpack on the ground, according to video surveillance cited in the affidavit. About 30 seconds before the first bomb exploded, video footage shows him looking at his cellphone and then lifting the phone to his ear as if to speak, the FBI affidavit said.

A few seconds after his apparent call, the first explosion a block away drew the crowd’s attention, but Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “virtually alone among the individuals in front of the restaurant, appears calm,” the affidavit said.

He glanced toward the blast and then walked in the other direction rapidly but calmly, the FBI affidavit said. Ten seconds later, the second blast occurred, and evidence shows the backpack Dzhokar Tsarnaev left behind in front of the Forum restaurant is the only thing that could have caused the second blast, the FBI affidavit said.

The marathon bombs, the affidavit stated, were “low-grade explosives that were housed in pressure cookers,” and packed with BBs, nails and green-colored hobby fuse.

The FBI affidavit also provides details of the chaotic getaway attempt the brothers made late Thursday and early Friday morning, which included what authorities said was an ambush that killed a police officer, a carjacking and then a shootout.

The affidavit said that during the carjacking around midnight Thursday night, one of the brothers pointed a gun at the victim and said: “Did you hear about the Boston explosion?” and then added: “I did that … I am serious.”

The FBI said video surveillance tape from a gas station where the suspects forced the carjacking victim to withdraw cash from an automatic teller machine shows two men who look like the accused brothers.

The victim told police that, inside the car, the brothers declared “that they were the Boston Marathon bombers and would not kill him because he wasn’t American,” according to a report by the Cambridge Police Department. The victim was described as an Asian American male.

After the shootout, police found homemade bombs that appeared to be of the same design and materials as the ones used to attack the marathon, the FBI said. At least one was a pressure cooker that contained BBs and nails, the affidavit said.

When Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was finally apprehended hiding inside a boat in a yard Friday night, he had gunshot wounds to his head, neck, legs and hand, the affidavit said. When agents searched his room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, they found, among other things, “a large pyrotechnic, a black jacket and a white hat of the same general appearance as those worn” by the bomber identified as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at the Boston Marathon, according to the court papers.

The White House on Monday defended the decision to try Tsarnaev through regular civilian courts rather than as an enemy combatant as some lawmakers had suggested.

“We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

The charges were filed just hours before a memorial service for one of the three people killed in the bombings, 23-year-old Boston University graduate student Lu Lingzi from Shenyang, China, was held at the school and attended by hundreds of people, including Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

The next step in the legal process against Tsarnaev is likely to be an indictment, in which federal prosecutors could add new charges. After Tsarnaev is indicted in the bombing, he will have an arraignment in federal court, when he will be asked to enter a plea.

Under federal law, as a defendant charged with a crime that carries a potential death penalty, he is entitled to at least one lawyer who is knowledgeable about the law in capital cases.

Federal Public Defender Miriam Conrad, whose office has been asked to represent Tsarnaev, filed a motion Monday asking that two death penalty lawyers be appointed to represent Tsarnaev, “given the magnitude of this case.” A probable cause hearing — at which prosecutors will spell out the basics of their case — was set for May 30.

Material from the Associated Press, Boston Globe and other published reports contributed to this article.