AP Photo/Jane Flavell Collins
AP Photo/Jane Flavell Collins
It doesn't get more ripped-from-the-headlines than this.
With a film project about the Boston Marathon bombing already in its early stages, Dzokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty today in federal court to terrorism-related charges, including murder and using a weapon of mass destruction, for his alleged role in attack that killed three people and left more than 260 injured.
He is also charged in the death of an MIT cop that occured during the search for Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, who was fatally injured during a shoot-out with police.
Among the 30 charges he is facing, 17 of them carry a maximum punishment of death. Three are conspiracy charges and 27 of the counts include the phrase "aiding and abetting" because his brother is being considered by authorities to be the mastermind behind the attack.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler ordered Tsarnaev to enter his pleas himself in front of a packed courtroom that included at least 30 bombing victims, some of them dressed in Boston Marathon gear.
It was the first time the former University of Massachusetts Dartmouth student had been seen in public since April 19, when he was found hiding in a boat parked in the back of a house in Watertown, the conclusion of a citywide manhunt that captivated the entire nation via TV, Twitter and other social-media outlets.
AP Photo/Margaret Small
Tsarnaev wore a standard orange prison jumpsuit. His left arm appeared heavily bandaged and a scar was visible on his throat, where he was reportedly wounded during his capture.
The arraignment only lasted about eight minutes and Tsarnaev's next hearing was set for Sept. 23. Asked how long they needed to make their case, prosecutors said they expected to call 80 to 100 witnesses and would need three to four months.
Tsarnaev's sisters, Ailina and Bella, both cried during the hearing. One of them could be heard saying, "I love you, Johar," as he left court.
Other charges he is facing include malicious destruction of property resulting in death, use of a firearm during and in relation to a violent crime and carjacking resulting in serious injury.
And with this phase of the real-life drama just getting under way, Hollywood is already planning to adapt the story for the big screen.
Eric Johnson and Paul Tamasy, who scored an Oscar nomination for their work on The Fighter, have already been recruited to adapt the upcoming book Boston Strong, by true-crime writer Casey Sherman, for the big screen.
Sherman tells EW.com that his book, due out next April, will take readers from the day of the bombing, April 15, 2013, to Patriots Day in 2014, "which is going to be a completely emotional and inspirational day that is going to show the world that Boston and the United States can't be defeated by either homegrown terrorists or terrorists from other countries."
"Some people feel it's too fresh," he said, acknowledging the seemingly tight time frame, "but if you do the story justice [the movie] becomes part of the history that we will hold about this case for years to come."