A former federal prosecutor from Indianapolis knows what it’s like to build a case against a terrorist who used a weapon of mass destruction to kill innocent people.
Larry Mackey, who is now a partner at Barnes and Thornburg, was instrumental in the prosecution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, and he knows what federal prosecutors are now facing as they attempt to build a case against Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Mackey says there are similarities between the two bombings, including the first priority federal authorities will have when questioning Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
“You always fear that there’s another threat,” Mackey said.
Investigators will begin by focusing on whether or not the Tsarnaev brothers acted alone, or if there are others who helped execute or finance the bombings.
“Let’s find the full extent of this conspiracy,” Mackey said. “Two makes a conspiracy. Was it larger?”
Once investigators answer that question, Mackey says prosecutors will build their case against Tsarnaev by trying to prove that the 19 year old was mentally committed to the crime. He says the defense may try to argue that his older brother coerced him.
“The one thing he has going for him is his youth,” Mackey said. “So prosecutors are going to be aware of that and they are going to be looking for emails and cell phone messages, anything in his own words, demonstrating his true commitment to the crime.”
Mackey says the crimes following the initial bombings, from the murder of an MIT police officer to the shootout with police, will also play a key role in arguing for the death penalty.
“It’s all of the conduct they engaged in thereafter. It was violent, clearly designed to harm and kill other individuals,” Mackey said. “If I were the prosecutor I would be building a case that demonstrates part of their plan was to do it again.”
Mackey agrees with the decision to prosecute Tsarnaev in civil court and, despite early indications, he also supports the decision to read him his Miranda Rights.
“I mean, they have a very strong case, they don’t need a confession from bomber number two to convince a jury that he was complicit in this case,” Mackey said. “Looking only at what we see from a public distance, not even having the insight into what the FBI has discovered that we don’t know about, it’s a very strong case they have.”