Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been found guilty on all charges he faced in federal court in Boston, MA this month.

The verdict was reached Wednesday afternoon, nearly two years to the day three people were killed and more than 260 injured in the April 15, 2013, bombings.

His conviction was practically a foregone conclusion, given his lawyer's startling admission during opening statements that Tsarnaev carried out the attack with his now-dead older brother, Tamerlan.

The two shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs that exploded near the finish line, turning the traditionally celebratory home stretch of the world-famous race into a scene of carnage and putting the city on edge for days.

"It's not a happy occasion, but it's something," said Karen Brassard, who suffered shrapnel wounds on her legs and attended the trial. "One more step behind us."

She said Tsarnaev appeared "arrogant" and uninterested during the trial, and she wasn't surprised when she saw no remorse on his face as the verdicts were read. She refused to say whether she believes he deserves the death penalty, but she rejected the defense argument that he was simply following his brother's lead.

"He was in college. He was a grown man who knew what the consequences would be," Brassard said.

The government called 92 witnesses over 15 days, painting a hellish scene of torn-off limbs, blood-spattered pavement, ghastly screams and the smell of sulfur and burned hair. Survivors gave heartbreaking testimony about losing legs in the blasts or watching people die. The father of an 8-year-old boy described making the agonizing decision to leave his mortally wounded son so he could get help for their 6-year-old daughter, whose leg had been blown off.

Killed were Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Chinese graduate student at Boston University; Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager; and Martin Richard, the 8-year-old. Massachusetts Institute of Technology police Officer Sean Collier was shot and killed during the brothers' getaway attempt.

In a statement, Collier's family welcomed the verdict and added: "The strength and bond that everyone has shown during these last two years proves that if these terrorists thought that they would somehow strike fear in the hearts of people, they monumentally failed."

Some of the most damning evidence included video showing Tsarnaev planting a backpack containing one of the bombs near where the 8-year-old was standing, and incriminating statements scrawled inside the dry-docked boat where a wounded and bleeding Tsarnaev was captured days after the tragedy.

"Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop," he wrote.

Tsarnaev's lawyers barely cross-examined the government's witnesses and called just four people to the stand over less than two days, all in an effort to portray the older brother as the guiding force in the plot.

Witnesses testified about phone records that showed Dzhokhar was at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth while his brother was buying bomb components, including pressure cookers and BBs. A forensics expert said Tamerlan's computer showed search terms such as "detonator," "transmitter and receiver," while Dzhokhar was largely spending time on Facebook and other social media sites.

The two brothers, who's family emigrated to the USA from Chechnya, ambushed and fatally shot MIT campus police officer Sean Collier days after the bombing before carjacking a motorist at a Cambridge, MA gas station and led police on a high-speed chase ending in a shootout in Watertown, MA after the two brothers lobbed explosives at pursuing officers. An MBTA Transit officer was fatally wounded while Tamerlane Tsaraev was hit by gunfire and run over by Dzhokhar as he sped off in the getaway car. After an afternoon of house-to-house searches, the younger Tsarnaev brother was taken into custody after a Watertown resident discovered an injured Dzhokhar hiding on his boat which was being kept in his backyard.

What remains to be seen is whether or not Tsarnaev will get the death penalty. While Massachusetts hasn't had the death penalty in more than 30 years, Dzhokhar is up on federal terrorism charges and remains eligible for being executed at a federal penitentiary.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Quickie Sports Chowdah Update- The Butler Did It! Patriots Win 4th Super Bowl on Malcom Butler's Late Pick; Say Clay- Buchholz Hurls Gem in 2015 Season Opener

SUPER BOWL- I know I'm more than 2 months behind on this, but WOW.

All you need to know about Super Bowl XLIX took place in the second half. After the Patriots defense gave up an 11 yard TD pass from Russell Wilson to WR Chris Matthews in the closing seconds of the first half, Seattle and New England headed into the 3rd quarter tied at 14-14.

Glendale, AZ's University of Phoenix Stadium has been home to some cringe-worthy moment for Patriots fans in the past and in the 3rd quarter, it appeared to be happening again as the Seahawks took a 24-14 lead.

About 7 minutes into the 4th quarter, the Patriots cut Seattle's lead to 3 point thanks to a TD pass from Brady to Danny Amendola to make it 24-21. Just before the two minute warning, New England would take a 28-24 lead thanks to Brady connecting to Julian Edelman for a 4 yard TD pass.

However, Patriots fans had that sinking feeling when Seahawks QB Russel Wilson connecting with WR Jermaine Kearse for a 33 yard completion- it was bobbled and appeared to be incomplete as Kearse scooped it up, but a video review from the officials showed that the ball had never touched the ground, giving the Seahawks the ball on the Patriots 5 yard line with 1:06 to go in regulation. After a timeout, Wilson handed off the ball to RB Marshawn Lynch to put the ball on New England's 1-yard line and giving the Seahawks no fewer than three shots at the end zone as the clock ticked down.

For whatever reason, Pats head coach Bill Belichick declined to take a timeout as the clocked ticked down to less than 30 seconds. Instead of handing the ball off to Lynch, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll opted for a short pass with 20 seconds remaining in the game. It would not turn out well for Seattle.

Obscure and unheralded cornerback Malcom Butler singlehandedly sealed the win for New England thanks to his pick of Wilson's short pass attempt to give New England the ball back at a pivotal juncture in the game. The Patriots were flagged for excessive celebration and penalized half the distance to the end zone- basically putting the ball on the one foot line and giving the Seahawks a pretty good shot at a safety, but after a scrum between Bruce Irvin and Rob Gronkowski, the Seahawks were penalized fifteen yards, which gave New England some more wiggle room. After a kneeldown by Brady, the Patriots 28-24 win was official.

Tom Brady was named the Super Bowl MVP [the third time he garnered the award in the four Super Bowl titles New England has won in the Brady/Belicheck era- NANESB!]. After the game, Brady gifted Butler a brand new pickup truck from a Chevrolet dealership in Butler's Mississippi hometown.

Carroll- who was the Patriots head coach before his USC tenure- was questioned for his decision to go for a pass play after Marshawn Lynch had easily picked up four yards on the previous play. Some less-than-kind Patriots fans joked that at long last Carroll had followed through on winning a championship for New England some 15 years after he left.

While some sour grapes Seahawks fans wanted to use New England's championship to gripe about 'Deflategate', the Super Bowl XLIX shold be considered by many NFL fans to ba an 'instant classic'.

MLB OPENING DAY- The Red Sox got it done with the longball and a solid outing from Clay Buchholz in his first-ever opening day start as Boston opened up the 2015 MLB season on the road in Philadelphia.

The Red Sox got on the board early with a 362ft solo shot off the bat of Dustin Pedroia to give Boston a 1-0 lead. Outfielder Mookie Betts belted another solo homer to deep left field off of Phillies starter Cole Hammels in the top of the 3rd. Buchholz would go on to throw even complete shutout innings as the Red Sox added to their lead with solo homers from Pedroia and offseason acquisition Hanley Ramirez in the fifth inning.

Junichi Tazawa would come on and get all three of the Phillies batters he faced out in order in the 8th inning and Hanley Ramirez would belt a grand slam to give Boston an 8-0 lead and Tommy Layne closed things out in the bottom of the 9th.

Through his 7 innings of work, Buchholz allowed a total of three hits and struck out nine while walking one batter. Meanwhile, Hammels only lasted five innings, giving up four earned runs on five hits.

With Tuesday off, the Red Sox will put their undefeated record on the line against the Phillies on Wednesday. Offseason acquisition Rick Porcello will get the start for Boston against Philly's Aaron Harang. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 ET and the game will be televised on NESN and ESPN2.