MOSCOW, August 20 (RAPSI, Ingrid Burke) – Explicit details of the injuries sustained by Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev during the course of the violent manhunt that led to his capture – including a skull-base fracture and a gunshot wound to the face and mouth – have been released in the form of freshly unsealed court documents.
The new documents feature the oral testimony of trauma surgeon Stephen Ray Odom, who treated Tsarnaev. Although it was only just publicly released, the testimony was given on April 22, three days after the suspect’s arrest.
Just before 3 p.m. on April 15, two explosions occurred near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) devised from pressure cookers, low explosive powder, shrapnel, adhesive and other materials were hidden in backpacks that were then placed near metal barricades in areas packed with hundreds of spectators, according to Tsarnaev’s indictment.
The following four days were consumed by a dramatic and at times extremely violent manhunt for the suspects, who were identified by name on April 19 as Dzhokhar (then 19, now 20) and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev (26, now deceased). The manhunt entailed the presence of thousands of law enforcement personnel from local, state and federal agencies, and resulted in a veritable lockdown through parts of the greater Boston area.
Tamerlan was killed during a police shootout, and Dzhokhar was arrested on the evening of April 19 after having been discovered hiding in a dry-docked boat in the Boston suburb of Watertown.
Although gory images of the moments of the younger Tsarnaev’s capture had surfaced on the Internet, the true extent of his injuries was left largely to speculation prior to the release of the surgeon Odom’s testimony.
Asked about Tsarnaev’s medical state at the time – again, only three days following his arrest – Odom explained: “He has multiple serious injuries that require ongoing inpatient medical care at this time. He is currently in an intensive care unit, though his status is not critical.”
Odom explained that Tsarnaev had sustained multiple gunshot wounds, “the most severe of which appears to have entered through the left side, inside of his mouth, and exited the left face, lower face. This was a high-powered injury that resulted in skull-base fracture, with injuries to the middle ear, the skull base, the lateral portion of his C1 vertebrae, with a significant soft-tissue injury, as well as injury to the pharynx, the mouth, and a small vascular injury that’s been treated.”
The surgeon added that Tsarnaev had suffered ophthalmologic injuries as well, but that those had been treated. Odom further testified that Tsarnaev sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the extremities.
RAPSI reporters observed in the courtroom during Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s July arraignment hearing that his left hand was in a cast.
Quoted in the newly unsealed testimony about Tsarnaev’s left hand, Odom explained in the context of gunshot wounds sustained to the extremities that, “in the case of his left hand, he had multiple bone injuries as well that were treated with fixation and soft-tissue coverage, as well as tendon repair and vascular ligation.” At the time of the testimony, Odom explained that the wound was still open.
When asked about Tsarnaev’s understanding of the circumstances present at the time, Odom explained, “He definitely knows where he is. He knows that he has had multiple procedures, but I'm not sure how aware he is of the specifics. He knows that he has an injury to the neck and to the hand.”
When asked whether Tsarnaev was adequately lucid to comprehend and respond to basic questions, the surgeon confirmed that Tsarnaev was able to respond vocally.
On June 27, a federal grand jury returned a 30-count indictment against Dhzokhar. The charges include the use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and the bombing of a place of public use resulting in death, among others.
According to an accompanying FBI press release, 17 of those charges carry sentences of up to life imprisonment or the death penalty, and the rest carry sentences of life imprisonment or imprisonment for a fixed period.