Reports: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Awake and Answering Questions

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 22 2013 9:10 AM

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Said to Be Awake and Answering Questions

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Boston Police and Massachusetts State Police stand guard outside of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is currently being held and receiving medical attention.

Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Perhaps we'll get some answers after all. Dzhokar Tsarnaev regained consciousness and began communicating with authorities in writing Sunday night, according to reports from ABC News, NBC News and USA Today. Beyond that, however, not much is known. All three reports are rather vague on their sourcing—with USA Today going the furthest by describing its source as someone who "has been briefed on the matter but is not authorized to comment publicly"—and none offer specifics about what, if any, information the younger Tsarnaev brother has offered from his hospital bed. Given the conflicting and occasionally wrong reports we all saw pour in last week, at this point it should be clear we won't know anything for sure until authorities speak on the record, and even then we should be wary. (See: the 7-Eleven robbery.)

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Still, here's NBC with what it knows:

Nearly 48 hours after he was taken into custody following an intense gun battle and manhunt, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was communicating with a special team of federal investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital. He was responding to questions mostly in writing because of the throat wound, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The suspect remains in serious condition. ...
Officials are hoping to glean more information about the twin blasts Monday at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, which killed three people and injured more than 170,  and determine whether Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a firefight with police after a wild chase into the Boston suburb of Watertown on Thursday night, received assistance from others.
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The reports came as a surprise given only hours earlier Boston Mayor Thomas Menino suggested the possibility that the 19-year-old’s injuries—particularly a gunshot wound to the throat—were so severe that investigators may never have the chance to talk with him. "We don’t know if we’ll ever be able to question the individual," Menino said in one weekend television interview. Still, there was guarded optimism the suspect's condition would 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.

Meanwhile, speculation continues that Tsarnaev may have shot himself in the throat at some point before being taken into custody. The injury "had the appearance of a close range, self-inflicted style," a senior law enforcement official told the New York Times. If true, that would suggest the very real possibility that Tsarnaev has no plans to cooperate with authorities who are no doubt eager to hear what he has to say about the Boston Marathon bombing.

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter, and read more on Slate about the Boston Marathon bombing.***