Briefs from Tribune news services
Boston suspect downloaded bomb instructions, feds say
Boston • Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev downloaded bomb-making instructions from an al-Qaida magazine, gathered online material on Islamic jihad and martyrdom, and later scrawled anti-American messages inside the boat where he lay wounded, a federal indictment charged Thursday.
The 30-count indictment contains the bombing charges, punishable by the death penalty, that were brought in April against the 19-year-old Tsarnaev, including use of a weapon of mass destruction to kill.
It also contains many new charges covering the slaying of an MIT police officer and the carjacking of a motorist during the getaway attempt that left Tsarnaev's older brother, Tamerlan, dead.
"Tamerlan Tsarnaev's justice will be in the next world, but for his brother, accountability will begin right here in the district of Massachusetts," Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley, whose jurisdiction includes Boston, said at a news conference with federal prosecutors.
Trayvon Martin encounter racially charged, friend says
Sanford, Fla. • George Zimmerman's defense attorney insisted during several testy exchanges with a prosecution witness Thursday that Trayvon Martin injected race into a confrontation with the neighborhood watch volunteer and insinuated the young woman was not believable because of inconsistencies in her story.
However, 19-year-old Rachel Jeantel stood firm in her testimony about the night Zimmerman shot the unarmed black 17-year-old after a fight that Jeantel said she overheard while on the phone with Martin. Jeantel has said Martin told her he was being followed by a "creepy ass cracker," implying Martin was being followed by a white man because of his race.
Zimmerman identifies himself as Latino. Race has permeated nationwide discussions of the case since the February 2012 shooting, which prompted nationwide protests and claims from critics that police took too long to arrest Zimmerman. The neighborhood watch volunteer has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and says he acted in self-defense.
Defense attorney Don West also zeroed in on slight differences among the witness' three different accounts of what happened before Martin's killing, in an apparent effort to discredit her. Jeantel has described what she heard over the phone in a deposition; a letter to Martin's mother; and an interview with the Martin family attorney.
Perry makes Texas clash on abortion filibuster personal
Grapevine, Texas • Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday admonished the star of a Democratic filibuster that helped kill new Texas abortion restrictions, saying state Sen. Wendy Davis' rise from a tough upbringing to Harvard Law graduate should have taught her the value of each human life.
The Republican governor expanded on those remarks later, publicly wondering what might have happened if Davis' own mother had undergone an abortion rather than carry her child to term.
Davis, a Fort Worth Democrat, shot back that Perry's statement "tarnishes the high office he holds."
Before the white-hot battle over abortion in the nation's second-largest state turned personal, Davis staged a marathon filibuster Tuesday helping to defeat an omnibus bill that would have further limited abortions in a place where it's already difficult to undergo them. But Perry called lawmakers back for a second special session next week to try to finish the job.
Davis, 50, has rocketed to sudden, national political stardom thanks to donning pink running shoes and delivering the marathon speech on the floor of the state Senate. Her surge in popularity came as no surprise to Texas Democrats. Since arriving at the Texas Capitol, she has earned derision and respect for her ability to dissect a complex bill and make her opponents squirm under tough questioning.
Davis' supporters argued Perry never would have made such suggestions to a male politician.
"Rick Perry's remarks are incredibly condescending and insulting to women," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement. "This is exactly why the vast majority of Texans believe that politicians shouldn't be involved in a woman's personal health care decisions."