Rogerio Franca was the first defense witness of the day. The Brazilian immigrant who works as a limo driver described his friendship with Tamerlan Tsarnaev that began with hanging out with a group of Russians in Allston. The relationship began to sour in subsequent years when Franca moved to Cambridge and one day asked Tsarnaev not to deal weed in his apartment.
Tsarnaev reacted angrily saying "friends don't do that. Franca remembers seeing Tamerlan and Russian friends dividing drugs in his room. He told them to "get out".
When he saw Tamerlan years later on Boyston Street he was wearing a long white robe and a heavy beard. Tamerlan asked Franca why he had not yet become a Muslim.
A computer expert testifying for the defense in the trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev says his brother Tamerlan's wife did research on her computer to try to find out what the rewards would be for the wife of someone who dies as a martyr fighting in a holy war.
Mark Spencer testified Tuesday that Katherine Russell's computer showed search terms more than a year before the bombings that included: "rewards for wife of mujahedeen" and "if your husband becomes a shahid what are the rewards for you?"
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's lawyers have argued that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was the mastermind of the bombings and led his younger brother, Dzhokhar, down the path to terrorism. They say Tamerlan became radicalized, and his wife, an American from Rhode Island, also showed signs of becoming a religious fanatic.
The penalty phase of the US versus Tsarnaev continues today with more defense witnesses taking the stand in an effort to spare the convicted Boston Marathon bomber execution with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The defense opened its argument Monday by acknowledging that jurors “had seen more pain, horror and grief than they could ever imagine” during this trial.
"We are asking you to judge Dzhokhar by imprisoning him for the rest of his life" said his attorney David Bruck, who showed the jury a grim photo of Colorado Maximum security where Tsarnaev would live the rest of his life without book deals or news interviews if the 12 men and women of the jury opt for life.
Bruck laid out on monitors a map of the Caucasus region of Russia and sought to trace Tsarnaev family dysfunction all the way back to Joseph Stalin’s’ mass deportation of native Chechens to Kyrgyzstan a thousand miles away.
That explains why Dzhokhar grew up thousands of miles from Chechnya, said Bruck.
The Tsarnaevs arrived in Cambridge in 2002. Both parents, Anzor and Zubeidat, within years were diagnosed with serious mental disorders and that left older brother Tamerlan in charge, said Bruck.
Numerous witnesses, including an Imam from the Cambridge Mosque, recalled Tamerlan as intimidating and a guy with a temper.
Bruck asked the jury: "If Tamerlan had not been in the picture would Dzhokhar have done this on his own?"
The defense is trying to convince at least one jury member to conclude no.
One no vote is all that is needed for Tsarnaev to escape the death penalty.