His arm in a cast and his face swollen, a blase-looking Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty Wednesday in the Boston Marathon bombing in a seven-minute proceeding that marked his first public appearance since his capture in mid-April.
As victims of the bombing looked on, Tsarnaev, 19, gave a lopsided smile to his two sisters, both in Muslim garb, upon arriving in the courtroom. He appeared to have a jaw injury and there was swelling around his left eye and cheek.
Then, after he leaned over toward a microphone and said, “Not guilty” over and over in a Russian accent, he was led out of the courtroom, making a kissing motion with his lips toward his family as he left. His sister sobbed loudly, resting her head on a woman seated next to her.
He faces 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction to kill, and could get the death penalty if prosecutors choose to pursue it. Prior to his arrest, he had written that his Muslim faith spurred him to do the bombings.
The proceedings took place in a heavily guarded courtroom packed not only with victims but with their families, police officers, members of the public and the media. Tsarnaev looked much as he did in a photo widely circulated after his arrest, his hair curly and unkempt. He appeared nonchalant, almost bored during the hearing.
The April 15 attack killed three people and wounded more than 260. Authorities say Tsarnaev orchestrated the attack along with his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died following a shootout with police three days after the bombing.