Bomber's teacher: He 'always wanted to do the right thing'

A Boston Bombing Trial Witness Is Missing

BOSTON (AP) - As a child, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was quiet, hardworking and "always wanted to do the right thing," his third-grade teacher testified Wednesday to jurors who will decide whether he spends the rest of his life in prison or is sentenced to death.

Catheryn Charner-Laird testified on the third day of the defense case in the penalty phase of Tsarnaev's trial as his lawyers shifted the focus away from his older brother, Tamerlan. The defense has portrayed Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died days after the bombing, as the mastermind of the attack.

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Bomber's teacher: He 'always wanted to do the right thing'
Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (L) is shown in a courtroom sketch next to Judge George O'Toole on the first day of jury selection at the federal courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts January 5, 2015. O'Toole on Monday began the process of selecting the jury that will hear the trial of Tsarnaev, telling the first of some 1,200 prospects to read no more news accounts about the deadly blasts. Tsarnaev could get the death penalty if convicted of killing three people and injuring more than 260 others by detonating a pair of homemade bombs placed amid a crowd of thousands of spectators at the race's finish line on April 15, 2013. REUTERS/Jane Flavell Collins (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
A memorial for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and its aftermath stands near the race's finish line, on the second day of jury selection in the trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Boston, Massachusetts January 6, 2015. The victims remembered are MIT police officer Sean Collier, Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu and Martin Richard. Tsarnaev could get the death penalty if convicted of killing three people and injuring more than 260 others by detonating a pair of homemade bombs placed amid a crowd of thousands of spectators at the race's finish line on April 15, 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
BOSTON - MARCH 9: An artist's sketch of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hangs on the wall outside the Moakley courthouse for videographers to record during the Marathon bombing trial. (Photo by Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
A courtroom sketch shows accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (C) sitting with his attorneys on the first day of his trail at the federal courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts March 4, 2015. REUTERS/Jane Flavell Collins (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
A plaid backpack Is seen in this undated handout evidence photo provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston, Massachusetts on March 25, 2015. FBI Special Agent Kenneth Benton testified that he and fellow agents searched the landfill after a college friend of Tsarnaev's took the plaid backpack from the defendant's dorm room and tossed it into a dumpster. REUTERS/U.S. Attorney's Office/Handout FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
BOSTON - MARCH 11: Members of the media film evidence from the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Boston Marathon bombing trial on display at the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston on March 11, 2015 . (Photo by John Blanding/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 13: TV cameras line the entrance of John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse as the Boston Bomber Trial enters jury deliberations in the sentencing phase of the trail on May 13, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 counts related to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 13: Members of the legal defense team for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, including William Fick (from left), Miriam Conrad, Judy Clarke and Timothy Watkins leave John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse after the beginning of jury deliberations in the sentencing phase of the Boston Bomber Trial on May 13, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 counts related to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 13: Members of the public line up to enter John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse as the Boston Bomber Trial is slated to start closing arguments on May 13, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 counts related to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 11: A protester holds up a sign outside of John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse as the Tsarnaev defense nears its end of presenting case in sentencing phase of the Boston Bomber Trial on May 11, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty on all 30 counts related to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 11: Sister Helen Prejean is surrounded by media after testifying at John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse as the Tsarnaev defense nears its end of presenting case in sentencing phase of the Boston Bomber Trial on May 11, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty on all 30 counts related to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 04: Members of the legal defense team for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, including Miriam Conrad, (from left), Judy Clarke and David Bruck arrive at John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse as the sentencing phase in the Boston Bomber Trial continues on May 4, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty on all 30 counts related to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries and his relatives are expected to take the stand to testify. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Members of the legal defense team for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, including (L-R) David Bruck, Timothy G. Watkins and Judy Clarke leave John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse as the sentencing phase In Boston Bomber Trial continues on April 27, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty on all 30 counts related to to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Members of the legal defense team for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, including William Fick (L) and Timothy G. Watkins walk away from John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse during the first day of the sentencing phase of the Boston Marathon Bomber Trial on April 21, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty on all 30 counts related to to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which related in three deaths and over 250 injuries.(Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 21: Media and police vechicles are reflected in the entranceway of John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse during the first day of the sentencing phase of the Boston Marathon Bomber Trial on April 21, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty on all 30 counts related to to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 8: The jury found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty at the Boston Marathon bombing trial at Moakley Federal Court. Bombing survivor Karen Brassard pauses as she answers a question outside the courthouse after the verdict. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 8: Dana Cohen, (from left), Carlos Arredondo, Karen Brassard, Liz Norden, Laurie Scher and Massport Fire Lt. Michael Ward at a press conference outside of John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse following a verdict in the Marathon Bombing case on on April 8, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty on all 30 counts related to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON - MARCH 4: Opening statements in the trial of the Boston Marathon bomber took place at Moakley Federal Courthouse. A construction crew lowers a form to pour concrete in with the words 'Boston Strong' spray painted on it at a construction site directly across from the courthouse. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - MARCH 5: Boston Marathon bombing victim, Rebekah Gregory, right, arrived at Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston, where the second day in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev got underway on March 5, 2015. (Photo by Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 4: Joe Kebartas of South Boston protests the death penalty outside of the entrance to the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse during the first day of the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial on March 4, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction in an attack on the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon along with his brother Tamerlan, who was later killed during a shootout with police. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON - MARCH 4: Jose Briceno, of Cambridge, Mass., protests outside Moakley Federal Courthouse, where opening statements began in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on March 4, 2015. (Photo by Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
A courtroom sketch shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (R) during the jury selection process in his trial at the federal courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts January 15, 2015. Tsarnaev, who appeared in court on Thursday wearing a sport jacket and collared shirt, more formally dressed than in last week's appearances, and had trimmed his hair, is also charged with fatally shooting a university police officer three days after the bombing. He has pleaded not guilty. REUTERS/Jane Flavell Collins (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
Fireworks are pictured in this undated handout evidence photo provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston, Massachusetts on March 25, 2015. The jury also saw a photo of a firework, with its powder removed, that was retrieved from a backpack found at a landfill south of Boston. FBI Special Agent Kenneth Benton testified that he and fellow agents searched the landfill after a college friend of Tsarnaev's took the plaid backpack from the defendant's dorm room and tossed it into a dumpster. REUTERS/U.S. Attorney's Office/Handout FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
BOSTON - JANUARY 5: A heavy Coast Guard presence was seen in Boston Harbor by the Moakley Federal Courthouse for start of jury selection for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 04: A memorial stands at the site of the first bomb that went off in the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013 on January 4, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Jury selection begins tomorrow in the case against Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, the suspected Boston Marathon bomber. Tsarnaev has plead 'not guilty' to 30 charges that could result in the death penalty if he is found guilty. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
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Three people were killed and more than 260 were wounded when twin pressure-cooker bombs exploded near the finish line of the marathon on April 15, 2013.

Tsarnaev, 21, was convicted of all 30 charges against him, including 17 that carry the possibility of the death penalty. The same jury must now decide his punishment.

The defense team has focused heavily on Tamerlan, arguing he was a domineering influence on Dzhokhar and led him down the path to terrorism. Prosecutors have said the brothers were partners in the bombing, which was designed to retaliate against the U.S. for its actions in Muslim lands.

On Wednesday, Tsarnaev's lawyers called witnesses to testify about what he was like as a child, years before he became the Boston Marathon bomber.

"He was just learning English at that time," Charner-Laird said, referring to Tsarnaev's recent move to the U.S. from Russia with his family.

Tsarnaev was 9 in the fall of 2002 when he was one of her students in a combination class for third- and fourth-graders at the Cambridgeport School.

"He was incredibly hardworking," she said. "He cared a lot about his studies; he tried very hard."

Many times, he didn't know what to do because of the language barrier, she said. But he "always wanted to do the right thing," she said.

Prosecutor Aloke Chakravarty cross-examined her briefly, asking if she knew Dzhokhar to be disciplined and smart. She said he was. The question appeared designed to rebut the defense claim that Dzhokhar was under Tamerlan's influence when he participated in the bombings.

Charner-Laird was one of several teachers who described him in glowing terms.

Rebecca Norris, one of Tsarnaev's teachers in seventh- and eighth-grade, called him "really bright," ''well-behaved,' "pretty much an A student."

"He wasn't a rebel. Basically, if you asked him to do something, he would do it," she said.

Norris said Tsarnaev was one of the school's best students and soccer players.

"I thought we would get him into a really good college with a full ride, and he would be very successful," she said.

The defense also showed the jury two photographs of a cherubic-looking Tsarnaev from about the same time. In one photo, he is sitting on a bench next to Tamerlan, who is about 16. Tamerlan has his arm around him, while Dzhokhar rests his arm on his older brother's leg.

In the other, Dzhokhar is smiling with his mother, two sisters and the landlady who owned the Cambridge apartment building where they lived.

Jurors also heard from two paramedics who treated the Tsarnaev brothers after a firefight with police in Watertown days after the bombings.

Paramedic Michael Sullivan said Tamerlan Tsarnaev was combative after being shot by police and run over by Dzhokhar during a chaotic getaway attempt. Sullivan said Tamerlan "would lift himself off the stretcher and yell and scream and try to resist us touching him."

He said sometimes people in shock react that way. Tamerlan was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Paramedic Laura Lee said Dzhokhar was awake and alert when he was put into an ambulance after being captured hiding in a boat in Watertown. He had a gunshot wound to his jaw, a leg wound and other injuries.

When someone put a tourniquet-like bandage on his leg, "apparently it was very tight and he was mad and it got loud," Lee said.

"He said, 'Where's my brother?'" Lee said. She said someone else in the ambulance told him, "You'll find out soon."


Newly Released Image Shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev Holding Gun
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