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Pressure cooker parts, BBs, found in marathon bombers’ home

March 25, 2015

BOSTON (AP) — Nails, BBs, pressure cooker parts and other potential bomb components were found inside Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s family apartment, an FBI agent testified Wednesday.

The items were found during a search four days after the 2013 terror attack, which killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers have admitted that he and his older brother, Tamerlan, planted and detonated two pressure-cooker bombs in backpacks near the marathon finish line on April 15, 2013.

Prosecutors have said the bombs were filled with BBs, nails and other shrapnel. They have also said the bombs were made with fuses from Christmas tree lights. On Wednesday, jurors were shown a photo of a string of lights found inside the apartment.

The defense contends that Tamerlan was the mastermind of the attack and enlisted his younger brother, then 19, to help him. Tamerlan, 26, died days after the attacks when he was wounded during a gun battle with police and run over by Dzhokhar as he escaped. Dzhokhar was found more than 18 hours later, hiding in a boat parked in a yard.

FBI Special Agent Christopher Derks was asked to show the jury items found in the Tsarnaevs’ small, cramped apartment. Derks said the three-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment was smaller than 800 square feet (74 sq. meters) and filled with clutter.

He said the FBI seized whole drawers filled with tools, including a caulking gun, wire cutters and a soldering gun.

“The mindset was that these tools could be used to make a device,” he said.

Also found in the apartment was a gasket to a pressure cooker and the top of a pressure cooker lid.

Derks identified various items belonging to Tsarnaev in the apartment, including his certificate of naturalization showing he had become a U.S. citizen. The brothers —ethnic Chechens — had lived in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and the volatile Dagestan region of Russia before moving to the U.S. with their parents and two sisters about a decade before the bombings.

Derks said agents also found a book with two sheets of loose-leaf paper inside with handwritten notes, including the name Tarek Mehanna, a local man who was convicted of conspiring to help al-Qaida, and a reference to Anwar al-Awlaki, an America-born Muslim cleric and al-Qaida propagandist who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011. Derks did not say whose handwriting it was.

Defense lawyers contend that Tsarnaev, then a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, had not been living in the apartment for more than a year before the bombings, so most of what was found there did not belong to him. At the time of the bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was living there with his wife and their young daughter.

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