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Lawyer says bombing suspect's wife 'didn't know anything'

April 23. 2013 10:20PM
Pedestrians hold flags in honor of the funeral Mass for slain MIT Police Officer Sean Collier at St. Patrick's Church in Stoneham, Mass., Tuesday. (BOSTON HERALD)

BOSTON - The wife of the dead Boston Marathon bombing suspect is assisting authorities and in absolute shock that her husband and brother-in-law were accused of the deadly blasts, her lawyer said on Tuesday.

"She cries a lot," attorney Amato DeLuca said of Katherine Russell, 24, an American-born convert to Islam who was married to Tamerlan Tsarnaev in June 2010. "She can't go anywhere. She can't work."

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a shootout with police and younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, lies wounded in a Boston hospital charged with using weapons of mass destruction in the twin blasts.

The two ethnic Chechen brothers remained the only known suspects.

People interviewed by Reuters described Tamerlan Tsarnaev as proud but angry, never quite achieving his own idea of the American dream, and instead finding solace in a radical form of Islam adopted by fighters in his homeland.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's condition improved to "fair" from "serious" on Tuesday as he recovered from gunshot wounds at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where in an impromptu hearing Monday he was charged with two crimes that could result in the death penalty if he were convicted.

Katherine Russell's lawyer called a news conference to deny that she had any connection to or knowledge of the bombings, saying she was busy caring for the couple's 2-1/2-year-old daughter and working as a home healthcare aide in the time leading up to the blasts.

"She is doing everything she can to assist with the investigation," DeLuca said outside his office in Providence, Rhode Island. "The reports of involvement by her husband and brother-in-law came as an absolute shock to them all."

DeLuca declined to say what law enforcement agencies Russell had spoken with or what they asked her. "It is pretty evident that she didn't know anything," he said.

Russian authorities flagged the older Tsarnaev in 2011 as a possible Islamist radical, and some lawmakers have accused the FBI of failing to act thoroughly enough after Russia's security services raised their concerns with the United States. The FBI questioned him in 2011.

Senate hearing

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration legislation, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano why the older brother was not questioned upon returning from Russia in 2012.

Napolitano said U.S. Customs generated an alert when he left the country, but neither Customs nor the Federal Bureau of Investigation was aware of his return six months later.

"The FBI text alert on him at that point was more than a year old and had expired," Napolitano said.

Napolitano also dispelled reports authorities may have lost track of Tamerlan Tsarnaev because his name was spelled differently on an airline manifest.

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