Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was charged Monday with "use of a weapon of mass destruction" and "malicious destruction of property resulting in death" in connection with the April 15 bomb attacks.
The criminal complaint against the surviving bombing suspect is dated April 21. Tsarnaev was brought before a magistrate Monday in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He will be represented by the federal public defenders office, according to the Boston Globe and other publications.
"The statutory charges authorize a penalty, upon conviction, of death or imprisonment for life or any term of years," the FBI said in a Monday press release. "Tsarnaev had his initial court appearance today from his hospital room."
The 19-year-old suspected terrorist cannot speak because of a gunshot wound to the neck, but CBS News reports he is awake and answering questions in writing.
The Justice Department says Tsarnaev would not be read his Miranda rights before questioning. The short Miranda rights warning informs arrested individuals that they have the right to remain silent and the right to legal representation. The government said investigators would invoke a "public safety exception." The suspect still retains these rights and cannot be tortured into confessing, but the exception is evidently being invoked to hasten the possible discovery of unexploded devices in the city.
The weapon of mass destruction charge facing Tsarnaev - a naturalized U.S. citizen of Chechen origin - is specified in 18 U.S.C. 2332a. John Mueller, an expert in foreign and defense policy at Ohio State University, explained to U.S. News in March that the very broad definition in this section of U.S. law covers many conventional weapons, and not just chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
Earlier on Monday ABC News reported that Dzhokhar's older brother and alleged accomplice, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, called his mother as the Thursday evening gunfight with police erupted.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the mother of the suspects, told ABC News he said, "The police, they have started shooting at us, they are chasing us." The older brother's last words were, according to his mother, "Mama, I love you."
ABC also reports his mother said the alleged terrorist wept during the phone call. Earlier in the night the brothers allegedly murdered MIT police officer Sean Collier before hijacking a car and fleeing to nearby Watertown, Mass., where Tamerlan was killed.
It's not clear from ABC's report if the mother also spoke with Dzhokhar, who moments later drove over his handcuffed brother with a car before successfully evading police for another day.
Tsarnaeva, who lives in Russia's Dagestan region, has refused to consider the guilt of her sons, alleging that they were framed by the FBI.
A June 2012 report by Natick Patch suggests the mother visited her sons in the U.S. on at least one occasion. According to the report, a middle-aged woman of the same name - whose residence was listed as a Cambridge apartment - was arrested for shoplifting at a Lord & Taylor department store "and charged with larceny over $250 (women's clothing valued at $1,624), and two counts of malicious/wanton damage/defacement to property."
Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited the Muslim regions of Dagestan and Chennya for six months last year. He was reportedly a devout Muslim and was married to a white American woman who converted from Christianity to Islam. Many media reports cast the older Tsarnaev brother as a bad influence on Dzhokhar, who returned to his dorm at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth after the bombing and even attended a party, the Boston Globe reported.
Dzhokhar was captured Friday after a manhunt in which local authorities locked down most of the city. The hospital where he is recovering was still treating 11 victims of the marathon bomb attacks on Monday, CBS reports.