*Timelines corrected March 17, 2015
Witness 47: Dun Meng aka Danny aka Manny
Dun Meng took the stand on day six of trial. He had an interpreter with him just in case he needed help but we were assured he spoke English. He attended school in China and then came to the US in 2009 for graduate school at Northeastern to study transportation engineering. He received a work visa and founded his own company that develops apps for food delivery. Ironically (or not), it appears Meng used to live at 3_4 Ocean Drive in Revere, virtually the same address for the Saudi national that was arrested after the bombing. However, Meng doesn’t live there anymore and that Saudi was released, wasn’t he? Is it me or is the Boston area the smallest world, like, ever? Meng briefly left the US (no dates, destination unknown) but arrived back in the Boston two months before the carjacking at which point in time he leased his Mercedes (Did he wait to leave town exactly when his previous lease expired? Or he didn’t own or have a car in Boston previously?).
Alright, here’s Meng’s story. This time. Under oath.
On the evening of April 18, 2013, Meng was working late in Kendal Square, Cambridge. He took off in his leased Mercedes SUV around 10:30pm and drove along the Charles River to “relax” after work. Nothing like a city drive to achieve a little serenity, am I right? But isn’t he a transportation engineer? The dude predicts traffic patterns and such. Wouldn’t driving be like working? Eh. Maybe not. Is it a scenic route? Okay, so he drove around the St. Charles River in his $652/month leased Benz for relaxation. His route: He left Central Square, went over the BU Bridge, took a right onto Commonwealth Avenue, took another right onto Harvard Avenue and then pulled over in front of the Autozone on Brighton Avenue in Brighton (But the prosecution’s opening arguments are not correct. I think it’s Allston. Looks like there’s only an Autozone at 55 Brighton Ave. in Allston) to respond to a text. Moments later he noticed a car pull up to the curb quickly behind him, a four-door sedan to be exact. If we Google map Meng’s route at this point from Kendal Square to 55 Brighton Ave., it should be around 10:45pm at this point. I mean, he was relaxing and he’s a transportation engineer that knows the safety of pulling over to text, so surely he wasn’t speeding.
Meng testified that a man got out of the sedan and looked in Meng’s passenger window. Meng thought he was trying to ask him a question so he lowered his window. The man asked him to lower it some more at which point he did. The man put his right hand in the window, opened the door and hopped in (clearly Northeastern didn’t give Meng a complete education on transportation safety). Meng said the man pointed a gun at his head and asked for $40-$45. Meng gave him the money but the man said it wasn’t enough, he demanded Meng’s wallet. Meng pulled out his wallet from the driver’s door but there was no money in it at which point, the man pulled out the magazine of the gun to show Meng the gun was loaded. The man said, “I’m serious. Don’t be stupid” (@wburLive). The carjacker then told him that he was behind the Boston bombings and that he had just killed a police officer (because a. the gun clearly wasn’t enough to intimidate Meng and b. now’s as good a time as any for a confession).
After confessing to his crimes, the carjacker told Meng to start driving. Meng, who originally believed this surreal moment was merely a cash robbery, became terrified after the man told him what he had done. The man told him where to go and they headed back out to Commonwealth Avenue. He drove two miles and turned right, I believe, into Brighton, and headed towards Watertown. They had some conversation: “What’s your name?” “Where are you from?” “What do you do?” “Why did you come to the States?” “Can you please try to drive normally?” “I’m Muslim, I hate Americans, you?” You know, the usual icebreakers. The carjacker then asked Meng if he had anyone that cared for him. Meng’s response of, “No. Nobody care about me” was in the hopes it would relax the carjacker. You know, to keep the guy from killing him. Yet, at some point, Meng testified that the man asked for his pin to his ATM card after which Meng gave it to him and then explained that the pin was his girlfriend’s birthday. Um. Okay.
As they continued to drive, Meng found himself driving through Allston/Brighton to Arsenal Street in Watertown. At some point they had a good old fashioned chit chat about whether or not black people look like white people (no joke) and shortly thereafter, they pulled onto Dexter Avenue where the sedan pulled in beside them. Let’s map this puppy. AutoZone to Dexter Avenue? Ten minutes. So it’s about 10:55 – 11:00pm at this point (But according to the indictment Meng was carjacked at 11:00pm. Really? Meng sat on the side of the road texting for fifteen mintues before he was carjacked? Maybe. But that’s not his testimony). So to recap Meng’s testimony, he was carjacked around 10:45 based on where he drove from to where he parked his car to respond to a text message and how quickly the sedan came up upon him. I haven’t mentioned it yet but previously Meng testified that he didn’t notice the sedan was following them for a good 20-30 minutes (although in previous interviews he said it was a “very light-color Honda” following them). I take it he meant he didn’t know it was following them until it pulled up beside them on Dexter? But even then, does that really prove the sedan was following the whole time?
At this point, it’s definitely 11:00pm. And guess who’s making their final phone call to each other on their burner phones? Yup, the Tsarnaev brothers. Tamerlan called Jahar at 11:00 pm that evening. And if we go over previous testimony and confusing as hell tweets, we see that at least one phone was pinged on Dexter. The other? No idea. And if they were both next to each other on Dexter Avenue, why are they calling each other? And if they’re not next to each other then that means Jahar was not necessarily following behind the carjacked Mercedes. One tweet from a reporter said this final call was made from Tamerlan, who was in the Allston area while Jahar’s phone was pinged in the Watertown/West Cambridge area. I think this information was for the 8:00 call between the two of them.
10:45: Meng’s’s carjacked.
11:00 – 11:05: Tamerlan and Danny arrive on Dexter Ave. Tamerlan calls Jahar who may or may not be directly behind them.
11:00 pm: Meng’s carjacked.
11:00 pm: Tamerlan calls Jahar from the Dexter area.
11:10 – 11:15: Tamerlan and Meng get to Dexter area.
Do you see the problem with the government’s timeline?
Okay, rolling with the narrative, they pull over on Dexter. The sedan pulls up. Meng is ordered into the passenger seat. A second man, that Meng will soon identify as Jahar, jumped out of the sedan. The two men popped his trunk and Meng felt them loading stuff into it but he didn’t turn around to watch. He was too scared. That doesn’t stop him from testifying that they loaded more than two things into the vehicle. He heard the two men talking to each other but Meng couldn’t understand what language they were speaking. After they finished loading up the vehicle, the carjacker (who will soon be identified as Tamerlan) got in the driver’s seat while Jahar took the backseat behind Meng. Meng testified that Jahar did not speak to him, the brothers only spoke to each other at this point. They headed off to the Bank of America located at 39 Main Street in Watertown. Map, please. It’s about an 8 minute easterly drive from Dexter Ave. Meng testified it was at 10-15 minute trip. And let’s say it took three to five minutes for them to load up the car. However long it took, they arrived at the bank and at 11:18pm, Jahar inserted Meng’s bankcard into the ATM and punched in the wrong pin. At 11:19 pm, he put in the correct pin and withdrew $800. He tried to take out another $800 but was unsuccessful due to 24-hour money withdrawal limits. At 11:21 pm, Jahar exited the ATM lobby. Did Meng think about escaping? Sure. But he testified that at that point he was told they both had guns so it probably wasn’t an option. I’m curious what happened to the story that Meng told about Tamerlan grabbing Meng’s jacket for him out of the backseat while Jahar was at the ATM? Remember he unbuckled his seatbelt to put the jacket on and then tried to buckle it behind him for easy escape but Tamerlan stopped him? Tamerlan’s response was, “Don’t do that. Don’t be stupid.” See → HERE
For the video of Jahar at the ATM → HERE (see BofA Watertown surveillance.wmv)
My timeline: (based on 8 minute drive from Dexter to ATM + 5 minutes to load the car)
(edited) 11:13-11:18pm: They arrive at the Bank of America ATM
11:19 pm: Jahar puts in the wrong ATM pin.
11:21pm: Jahar leaves ATM lobby.
Indictment and testimony timeline:
11:23 – 11:28: They arrive at the Bank of America ATM
11:19 pm: Jahar puts in the wrong ATM pin.
11:21pm: Jahar leaves ATM lobby.
Impossible times according to the government story.
After Jahar got back in the Mercedes, Meng was not told how much money was withdrawn, if any, and the vehicle headed into Watlham. At some point, Tamerlan asked how much gas was left in the SUV because Tamerlan’s dad was never an auto mechanic and the Tsarnaev boys knew nothing about vehicles said no one ever. Meng replied to the fuel tank-challenged Tamerlan, “‘Only a quarter.’ Only 50 miles worth,” according to @wburLive. As they arrived in Waltham, @lilsarg tweeted, “Carjacking route allegedly took them within feet of 12 Harding Ave., the Waltham house where the triple murder occurred.” Huh? Now why would Tamerlan turn down a dead-end road? Map, please. From the Bank of America to 12 Harding Avenue in Waltham is a ten minute drive. That puts the storyline at about 11:30 pm (of course, not according to the indictment). However, @hollybdc tweeted that they were “driving towards Waltham” and Tamerlan made a sudden u-turn. So…did they actually make it within feet of 12 Harding? No idea. Tamerlan started asking Meng if his car could go out of state, say, to New York (what does this question even mean??). Why did this question bother Meng? Because he was afraid they wouldn’t need him anymore. Ugh. If that’s not something the prosecution didn’t teach him, I don’t know what is. Okay, then Tamerlan asked him if the vehicle had GPS to which Meng replied “no,” because remember: Tamerlan and Jahar know nothing about cars. ::facepalm:: Even Hilary Sargent tweeted, “Seems bizarre that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar wouldn’t know that the car had GPS, given their knowledge of cars.” Mmhmm. Girl. I know.
(edited) 11:23-11:28 pm: They arrive at Harding Ave.
(edited) 11:33pm to 11:38pm: They arrive at Harding Ave.
It was around this time that Jahar then posed his first question to Meng, “Can you connect music from an iphone to the car, to play music?” (not a direct quote there, folks.). Again, the transportation engineer had to guide the technically challenged Jahar on the ways of the iPhone connections in a Mercedes. *sigh*
After all the technical talk, they pulled into a gas station where Jahar asked Meng for his credit card and zip code. But after a few minutes, Jahar got back in and Meng testified that he didn’t think Jahar pumped any gas. It appeared the gas station was closed. They left the station, Tamerlan made a u-turn and they headed back east into Watertown (they’re still in Waltham?), at which point Tamerlan asked him how to not only use the radio but how to turn it on. Good lord, seriously, Meng? They arrived back on Dexter Avenue where Jahar jumped out of of the Mercedes and grabbed possibly a CD and a GPS system out of the car. As soon as he got back in the vehicle, the brothers put in a CD that sounded “weird” and “religious” to Meng. It made him nervous. Tamerlan then turned down a dead end street (Harding?? Nah, that was earlier) where they sat for a moment. Meng was certain they were going to kill him. They didn’t. Instead, Meng’s roommate called him. Meng didn’t answer. The roommate then texted him in Chinese, “Where are you? It’s dangerous outside.” Using a translation app on the phone, Tamerlan replied to the text. At this point, another roommate called Meng. Tamerlan allowed him to answer the call only if he spoke in English, which Meng did at gunpoint. He told his roommate he didn’t feel well and that he was spending the night at a friends. At the earliest, it’s now 11:40, just for the drive from Waltham back to Dexter. That doesn’t include the gas station stop or the dead end street stop. Let’s include ten minutes for the gas station stop and the dead end street stop.
(edited) 11:43-11:48: They arrive back at Dexter Ave.
(edited) 11:53 to 11:58: They arrive back at Dexter Ave.
Meng then found himself on Soldier’s Field Rd. in Boston, which, at one point, turned into Cambridge. They eventually ended up at the Shell gas station on Memorial Drive. Tamerlan asked Meng how much it would cost to fill up the tank but Meng wasn’t sure. He told Tamerlan maybe $50-60. This dude has his registration number memorized for the police (testimony from the day before) and knows that a quarter of a tank will get him 50 miles but he has no idea how much it costs to fill up his tank? Oh man. So Tamerlan took out a $50 bill and told Jahar to fill it up with super grade gasoline because, really, why would Jahar use any of the $800 burning a hole in his pocket from the ATM earlier. Jahar went in to pay for the gas and left Tamerlan and Meng alone in the Mercedes. It was at this moment that Meng thought about escape. As Tamerlan was fiddling with the Garmin GPS Jahar had retrieved from the Honda on Dexter Avenue, Meng unbuckled his seat belt and made a run for it. As he leaped from the car and made his way across the street to safety at another gas station, he heard Tamerlan shout, “Fuck!” Meng, scared out of his mind, begged the man behind the counter of the Mobil gas station to call 911.
After the police arrived at the Mobil gas station, Meng, who had no idea how much it would cost to fill up his tank, gave the police his account number and password to the Mercedes tracking system in his vehicle, gave them his registration number and handed over, from memorization, his ATM card number. Yeah, he’s an engineer. I got that. That means he should know how much it takes to fill up his tank.
My timeline (based on a ten minute drive from Dexter to the Shell gas station):
Midnight: They arrive at the gas station.
(edited) 11:53-1158pm: They arrive at the gas station
12:19 am A 911 call goes out from the Mobil gas station.
(edited) 12:03-12:08pm : They arrive at the gas station.
12:19 am: A 911 call goes out from the Mobil gas station
Ah. Now the government timeline fits better than mine. See, it works out in the end.
Cross by the Defense
The defense wanted to clarify exactly who carjacked him (Tamerlan), who had pulled a gun out on him (Tamerlan), and who he had seen with a gun (only Tamerlan). They clarified that the first thing Jahar asked him was about how to play the iPhone in the vehicle. Meng also answered that he didn’t recall Tamerlan taking a phone call.
Redirect by the Prosecution
Who was loading stuff into the vehicle? “I didn’t look back but both of them.”
Who asked for your pin? “Jahar.”
Who withdrew money from your account? “Jahar.”
Who got out twice to fill the vehicle with gas? “Jahar.”
I’m not going to get into what Meng testified to in regards to the 911 call at the Mobil station except to say that he described the carjackers as “Arabian” or “Middle Eastern.” Everything else is the same narrative we’ve heard from the authorities.
More irony in this story? Remember the police radio dispatch after Collier’s murder that sent out a description of the suspect from all the witnesses authorities testified they didn’t find that night? “Black male, 125 pounds, 5’5″, and should be wearing a black Northface jacket” (HERE). You tell me – who fits the description better?
Mmhmm. And who’s to say that white cap both Jahar and Tamerlan were both seen wearing wasn’t Meng’s? Okay, calm down. I’m not saying Meng was involved in the MIT shooting. I’m just saying, on that night, authorities did have a witness that described the suspect and the description didn’t fit Jahar.
If you want to read about all the previous discrepancies in Meng’s story go → HERE
Up next: Tsarnaev Trial Witnesses: Day Seven