TSARNAEV_HEARING_Mixdown_1.mp3

Police were posted around the entire perimeter of the Moakley U.S. Courthouse in South Boston as federal marshals patrolled inside. The heavy security presence was a reminder of the magnitude of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s first public appearance in three months.  

Would be spectators lined up 60 deep outside the courtroom for a chance to go inside. Some of them were there in support of the 19-year-old suspect, but a man who did not want to be identified spoke for many others.

“It’s important for our city to resolve this, and it’s important that he go away for a long time," he said.

The alleged Boston Marathon bomber was led into court in an orange jump suit. His two sisters, sitting just yards away, began weeping audibly. The left side of Tsarnaev’s face was swollen, his left arm was bandaged, and he sported a black eye, but overall he seemed healthy. Certainly healthier than he was on April 19 when he was dragged, bleeding and unable to walk, from beneath a boat tarp in Watertown where he had been hiding.

Now, he was standing before United States magistrate judge Marianne Bowler, who insisted that he speak for himself. The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, was asked how he pleaded. 

“Not guilty,” Tsarnaev repeated seven times. 

Not guilty to all counts including the use of a weapon of mass destruction; a homemade bomb that wounded nearly 300 on April 15 and took the lives of Martin Richard, Krystle Marie Campbell, and Lingzi Lu.

Sitting in the jury box reserved for media, I looked to my left just a few feet away toward the Tsarnaev sisters.  One held an infant in her arms.  

Eight minutes after the hearing began, their brother left the courtroom and smiled at them. One of the sisters smiled back.   

On the opposite side of the courtroom where victims of the bombings sat, no one was smiling.  Some were in tears.

Outside the federal courthouse, reporters spoke with victims of the bombings. Mildred Valverde, of Somerville, was in the courtroom for Tsarnaev’s arraignment. She was near the finish line of the Boston Marathon when the bombs went off. She suffered torn ligaments and muscles, a concussion, nerve damage as well as vision and hearing loss.

“It was kind of eerie, kind of upsetting, but then again I felt good that I was able to be there,” she said. “I was kind of upset that he pled not guilty even though everyone knew that he would.”

Those who had made it inside the courtroom had varied opinions on what they saw on Tsarnaev’s face. From my vantage point, I saw an almost profound resignation.  Others saw a nervous 19-year-old. Another described him as bored. 

“I didn’t see the remorse. I didn’t see the nervousness or the fear,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology police chief John DiFava said. “It’s just not what I expected from somebody that murdered four people.”

For DiFava, it’s personal.  One of his MIT police officers, Sean Collier, was shot in cold blood the night of April 18. Allegedly by Tsarnaev and his brother, who was killed later on that night.      

“It was a strange feeling to me,” he said of seeing Tsarnaev in court. “I’ve never been in this position before to see someone face-to-face who murdered someone who I knew so well.”

Victims of the bombings mixed uneasily with Tsarnaev supporters as they drifted out of the courthouse: former members of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School wrestling team, a self proclaimed anarchist, a Boston high school student, and a grandmother from Connecticut.  

A handful of Tsarnaev supporters were eager to explain why they believe he is innocent. Lacey Buckley, 23, who traveled to Boston from her home in Wenatchee, Wash. founded a Facebook page dedicated to the Russian immigrant.

“I’m friends with a lot of supporters. I truly believe he’s innocent," she said.

At Troy Anthony’s Barber Shop in East Cambridge, less than two blocks from where the Russian Chechnyan immigrant family lived, the same debate over the guilt or innocence of a man identified in FBI distributed photos as the Marathon Bomber is taking place.

Troy Anthony, a burley barber with an unflappable personality, is the owner. He did not take a position on the legal case, but he remained incredulous that Dzhokhar committed such a crime.

“I watched them grow up on Norfolk Street,” he said of the Tsarnaev brothers. “They used to come in here for haircuts. No signs of anything… I mean, All-American kids. They were good kids. Just shocking.”

Now the younger of the Tsarnaev brothers, Dzhokhar, stands accused of multiple crimes, including 17 counts that could lead to the death penalty. To MIT police chief DiFava, that would be a satisfying conclusion.

“If he’s found guilty, he should get the death penalty,” he said.

In September, as the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger winds down, the trial of Tsarnaev could begin just a few doors away in US Federal court. Judge Bowler has set a status hearing for September 23.

On Greater Boston, WGBH's Adam Reilly and former U.S. Attorney Donald Stern discussed their observations.