Yesterday a fifth person was taken into custody in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings. From The Boston Globe:
A cab driver from Quincy who was close to the two suspected Boston Marathon bombers was arrested Friday on charges of lying to investigators and destroying evidence, allegedly obstructing the ongoing investigation of the 2013 attack that shocked the city and the nation.
Khairullozhon Matanov, a 23-year-old Kyrgyzstan national, allegedly contacted Tamerlan Tsarnaev 42 minutes after the April 15, 2013, bombings, and he bought him and his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, dinner at a restaurant that night. Matanov visited Tamerlan, whom he knew from playing soccer and from places of worship, at the suspected bomber’s Cambridge home two days later.
Over several days after the bombings, he also called the brothers repeatedly.
Authorities alleged in a sweeping indictment unsealed Friday that Matanov realized the FBI would want to interview him about his relationship with the suspected bombers, but that he deleted files from his computer and tried to get rid of his cellphones. They also allege that he lied to investigators about his encounters with the brothers in the days after the bombings.
The troubling thing about Matanov’s arrest is its possible implications on Jahar’s case. From the Boston Herald:
A Quincy cabbie’s dinner conversation with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could show whether the accused Boston Marathon bomber felt any remorse for the terror attack earlier that day. And if Khairullozhon Matanov said Tsarnaev didn’t, federal prosecutors could use that testimony to secure a death sentence for the accused terrorist.
Tsarnaev has loaded up his defense team with two high-powered experts to help him try to avoid the ultimate penalty. But yesterday’s arrest of Matanov, a friend to Dzhokhar and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, could give the U.S. Attorney’s Office a witness to the accused bomber’s state of mind. That’s if he gets a plea deal. And since Matanov is facing up to 44 years in prison on obstruction and other charges, that’s a real option.
“I would say there are two potential reasons that they waited so long to indict him: One could be to gather more information, and the other could be to strengthen the death penalty claim,” said Doug Sheff, president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, who isn’t involved in the case. “I think that may well be the second prong of what they’re doing. If the sentence scares the kid, a plea could be a way to try to get the death penalty.”
Should a federal jury convict Tsarnaev of any of the 17 death penalty-eligible charges, they will go to the sentencing phase and weigh several factors. One of them — listed by the government in its notice to seek death — is Tsarnaev’s perceived “lack of remorse.”
Less than an hour after the horrific double bombing, Matanov allegedly called the Tsarnaev brothers to invite them to dinner. Later, the three buddies sat down to break bread with Matanov picking up the bill, prosecutors say.
Sitting down for dinner after allegedly blowing up dozens of people doesn’t exactly say, “I’m sorry.”
This new news brings up some prayer requests:
- A fair trial and justice in Matanov’s case. 44 years sounds like a long time, but maybe it is justified. May what is truly just be what happens.
- Matanov’s salvation. He’s described as a devout Muslim. Pray that God would open his eyes to the truth of the Gospel and to his need for a Savior.
- God’s hand over the sentencing phase in Jahar’s case. As mentioned above, these new circumstances could easily make the death penalty more likely than before. Pray that God would be working to make Jahar’s sentence ultimately be whatever he needs to come to Christ—even if that is the death penalty.