Boston Marathon bomber cries, wipes eyes as aunt takes stand

The Costs of Having Tsarnaev's Family Fly in to Testify

BOSTON (AP) -- For the first time in court, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev dropped his blank, impassive demeanor and cried as his sobbing aunt briefly took the stand Monday in his federal death penalty trial.

Tsarnaev, 21, wiped tears from his eyes quickly and fidgeted in his chair as his mother's sister sobbed uncontrollably. He had maintained a disinterested expression since his trial began in January.

The aunt, Patimat Suleimanova, cried as she sat down about 10 feet from Tsarnaev. The tears began falling before she began to testify, and she was only able to answer questions about her name, her year of birth and where she was born.

After a few minutes, Judge George O'Toole Jr. suggested that the defense call a different witness so she could compose herself. As she left the witness stand, Tsarnaev used a tissue to wipe his eyes and nose.

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Boston Marathon bomber cries, wipes eyes as aunt takes stand
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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Five relatives - three cousins and two aunts - took the stand, though it was unclear if the aunt who broke down would be allowed to complete her testimony. As Tsarnaev was led out of the courtroom before the lunch recess, he blew a kiss at family members.

Tsarnaev was convicted last month of 30 federal charges in the bombings, including 17 that carry the possibility of the death penalty. He moved to the U.S. with his family in 2002 and committed the bombings when he was 19.

Prosecutors say Tsarnaev was an equal partner in the bombings with his radicalized older brother, Tamerlan, and have urged the jury to sentence him to death.

Tsarnaev's lawyers say Tamerlan, 26, was the mastermind of the attack and lured his brother into his plan. Tamerlan died days after the bombings following a shootout with police.

A cousin testified Monday that Dzhokhar was a kind and warm child, so gentle that he once cried while watching "The Lion King."

"I think that his kindness made everybody around him kind," Raisat Suleimanova said through a Russian translator.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Weinreb pounced, asking her if she believes a deadly attack on innocent civilians can be considered kind. Tsarnaev's lawyer objected, and Suleimanova was not allowed to answer the question.

Shakhruzat Suleimanova, another sister of Dzhokhar's mother, Zubeidat, testified that Dzhokhar, Tamerlan and their two sisters were well-behaved as children.

"They were so good. They wouldn't hurt a fly. My sister's children were such good children," she said.

Suleimanova said the family was crushed when Zubeidat moved to the U.S. with her husband and children. Five or six years later, when Zubeidat returned to Russia for a visit, the family was shocked to see her sister -always a fashionable dresser - covered in black clothing and wearing a jihab. Tsarnaev's lawyers have argued that Dzhokhar was influenced by his brother and his mother, who had become radicalized in the years before the bombings.

"We were all shocked. We were all in pain. We were very scared," she said. "We had never had people like that in our family. We prayed, we fasted, but no people like that."

Prosecutors urged the judge last week to press Tsarnaev's lawyers to make sure his relatives testify soon because 16 FBI agents have been assigned to guard and protect them while they are in the United States. The family members arrived in Boston on April 23.

"It's an enormous expense and distraction for the agency, and that's just part of the expense that the government has endured," Weinreb said during a sidebar discussion in court with Tsarnaev's lawyers and the judge, according to a transcript that was made public.

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