Boston Suspect Drifting In and Out of Consciousness

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 21 2013 11:48 AM

Suspect In and Out of Consciousness Amid Speculation he May Have Tried To Kill Himself

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The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston, where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remains hospitalized

Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been drifting in and out of consciousness, preventing interrogators from questioning the 19-year-old suspect, reports the Wall Street Journal. Tsarnaev remains in serious, but stable condition, and still has not been able to talk. Interrogators are anxious to question the 19-year-old but he remains “intubated and sedated,” an official tells CNN. ABC News hears word that Tsarnaev has wounds to the neck and throat area that make him unable to communicate. There's speculation that the suspect's gunshot wound to the neck may be a sign that he tried to kill himself. The injury “had the appearance of a close range, self-inflicted style,” a senior law enforcement official tells the New York Times. “He’s not in good shape.”

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino suggested in an interview with NBC News Sunday that the suspect’s wounds may be so severe that investigators may never be able to orally question him. Still, there was guarded optimism his condition could soon improve. "He’s in no condition to be interrogated at this point in time. He’s progressing, though, and we’re monitoring the situation carefully," Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told Fox News on Sunday.

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The FBI released a short statement on the suspect’s condition Sunday:

According to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remains in serious condition. The FBI is releasing this information at the request of the hospital.

As time passes, more questions are being raised about investigators’ plans to not read the 19-year-old his Miranda rights.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said the legal exception that allows for interrogators to question a suspect without reading him his rights only applies when the public may be in immediate danger and is “not an open-ended exception,” reports the Associated Press. A public defender for Massachusets, Miriam Conrad, agrees Tsarnaev needs to have a lawyer by his side as soon as possible because there are “serious issues regarding possible interrogation.”

This post has been updated with new information since it was originally published.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.