As Day 8 of the Tsarnaev trial began, the courtroom filled up with spectators, victims and journalists while a secret meeting in Judge O’Toole’s chambers delayed the much-anticipated testimony of boat owner, David Henneberry. When the trial finally got underway reporters noted that eight of the eighteen jurors were “decked out for #StPaddysDay,” because, well, apparently journalists need to tweet that stuff for lack of cameras in the courtroom. Thanks, O’Toole. As Henneberry took the stand, he smiled and winked at the prosecution (or “someone in the gallery” depending on the reporter you follow) and WBUR reported, “He seems very happy to be here.”
59. David Henneberry
Henneberry is a retired phone company worker and the homeowner of 67 Franklin Street in Watertown. He was also the owner of the boat, ironically named the Slipaway II, that Jahar Tsarnaev was found hiding in on the evening of April 19, 2013. He is a lifelong resident of Watertown and described his neighborhood as “busy but quiet.”
Henneberry testified that his boat is a 1981 Seabird with an inboard, V8 engine. He’s an avid boater and, prior to his boat getting shot up, he had it shrink-wrapped annually after the warm weather of boating season had departed. Shrink-wrap is what protects the boat from the gusty winds, frigid ice, and blistering cold during those hard, Boston winters. In 2013 (or, rather, at the end of the season in 2012), Henneberry paid professionals to shrink-wrap the Slipaway II and tow it to his home. The shrink-wrap included a zipper door which allowed him to “check on it [the boat]” throughout the winter because, well, he seemed to adore his boat, as many boat owners do.
While watching neighborhood police activity from his window, Henneberry noticed that two chafing guards had fallen off his boat. Waiting until after the authorities lifted the “shelter in place” restrictions (because lifting a “DO NOT leave your home for your own safety” order at nightfall sounds like the safest way to go said no one ever), Henneberry went outside to check on his boat. He, first, went to his garage to retrieve a step-ladder and then used it to climb up the side of the boat to reach the zipper door. After unzipping the shrink-wrap, Henneberry noticed blood on the deck of the boat. He testified that it was a lot of blood, but “not a pool,” more like a bad cut or drips and smudges. He followed the trail of blood and eventually noticed Jahar lying down on the other side of the inboard engine. He could see Jahar’s black boots, tan pants and hooded sweatshirt; although, @GlobeCullen and @lilsarg both tweeted it was shoes, not boots that Henneberry observed. Seems the Globe reporters always hear things a little differently. And tan pants? I can assure you, Jahar was not wearing tan pants that evening. Jahar was lying on his side with his back to Henneberry, who immediately ran inside and called 911.
Henneberry stated in an interview that he went back outside after calling the authorities but no mention is made of this during his testimony → WCVB Interview
The prosecution showed Henneberry pictures of his boat and his step-ladder which he identified for the court. Asked if the inboard engine could have stopped bullets from hitting Jahar, Henneberry replied he wasn’t sure.
Ah, the pencil. With the name of his stepson’s company, “Duffy Plumbing,” etched on the side of it, the prosecution entered Henneberry’s bloodied, sharpened pencil into evidence. Sharpened with what, you ask? Good question. Answer: “Looks like it’s been whittled down w/ knife, not a sharpener,” per @wburlive. Yup, the jihadist terrorist is also a whittler. Who knew? So Henneberry testified that this pencil was given to him as a gift and that he had left it in the boat before it was shrink-wrapped for the season. So here’s the interesting thing about the pencil (outside of the blood that was on the tip of it but not a drop anywhere else): Jahar allegedly used this pencil to write his boat “manifesto.” But he didn’t just write a manifesto, he also carved part of it into wooden slats located on the sides of the boat…with the pencil. I give you the pencil:
For the full note Jahar wrote and carved into the boat, go → boston.com
On one of the slats he wrote, “Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop,” which, of course, appears to be a pretty reasonable request—but only if the request is coming from a good old-fashioned, white, American, am I right? Oh, calm down, I put the soapbox away prior to writing this blog post. As to where the pencil was originally found by Jahar, admittedly I’m a little confused. As you can see from above, the pencil was located somewhere in the boat but definitely not in a toolbox. Yet, the defense entered into evidence a photo of an open toolkit with the pencil laying across it:
I don’t know, do they always move evidence around like that for photo shoots?
On cross, Henneberry admitted that even though he identified his boat through the prosecution’s photos dated April 20, 2013, he was not allowed to actually see the boat in person that day. Was he familiar with what his boat looked like after Jahar’s arrest? Only vaguely. The authorities had Henneberry leave his home before the arrest and he never saw the boat again in person. So in essence, he didn’t “vaguely” remember what his boat looked like except from police photos and news stories, right? The defense also pointed out to Henneberry smudges of blood on the edge of the boat, bullet holes on the back of the boat and, more specifically, blood stains on the swim platform.
To be honest, I haven’t a clue about boats except that I enjoy being invited on them. With that said, it seems Jahar may have climbed inside the boat via the swim platform, which makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that Henneberry, who went so far as to call his boat his “baby,” first went to the garage to get a step-ladder, turned around to return back to the boat, which would have placed his vision towards the side and back of the boat, did not notice anything askew near the swim platform. Was the shrink-wrap messed up after Jahar entered the boat? I would think so but who am I? No expert, that’s for sure. Maybe Jahar fixed it after getting in. But look at the boat, that wrap goes all the way around and to the bottom of the boat—there’s no way Jahar could have corrected that from inside the boat. So how did Henneberry fail to notice not only that the shrink-wrap had come undone at the back of the boat but the blood stains when exiting the garage?
Maybe Jahar was able to climb up through the zippered-door which was located on the side of the boat where you see the ladder. But even then wouldn’t there have been blood seen on the outside of the shrink-wrap? Ugh. Perhaps I’m missing something here. At the end of the day, no one definitively concluded that Jahar used the pencil to write the manifesto, where he got into the boat and why, oh, why, if Henneberry was watching the police activities from his window throughout the day, they never stumbled upon Jahar. Ah, that’s right, they called off the blood sniffing dogs.
Asked outside the courthouse if he’d ever see his boat again, he made a face and responded, “They own it.”
60. Stephen Silva
Stephen Silva arrived in the courtroom in a gray prison uniform. Incarcerated on pending drugs and weapons charges, the self-professed best friend of Jahar made a deal with authorities in exchange for his testimony. At age 21, Silva has spent his entire life in the Boston/Cambridge area and stands accused of giving Jahar a gun that was used to kill Officer Sean Collier on the night of April 18, 2013.
The Plea Agreement:
As Silva put it, “It’s my understanding if I cooperate (SNITCH) and give truthful testimony I stand a better chance at sentencing.” Ultimately, however, it will be up to the judge to decide. Mmhmm, that shouldn’t affect his testimony at all. At this point, he’s looking at 5-7 years on his most recent drug and weapons charges but he believes it may be reduced by cooperating with the government.
The defense on cross:
You lied to the feds to make yourself look good? “Yes.”
And to get your deal? “No.”
So unless the prosecutor files a motion, you’ll get at least 5 years? “Yes.”
You’re hoping to get time served? “Best deal I can.”
You didn’t want to get sentenced until after you testified? “Yes.”
In fact, today was your sentencing date, but the government pushed it back, correct? “Yes.”
So it’s up to the prosecutor to decide to recommend a lower sentence? “Yes.”
The prosecution on re-direct:
Silva: “Whatever I say, my testimony won’t be used against me unless it’s an act of violence or I lie.”
What happens if you lie? “I won’t get immunity, I could be prosecuted.”
Does that say the sentence to be imposed is in the sole discretion of the court? “Yes.”
The defense on re-cross:
So if you lie or commit a crime, they won’t file a motion to reduce? “Yes.”
You have lied to the government before, right? “Yes.”
Down at the jail, you’ve done some illegal things? Objection. Sustained.
In fact, you have violated the plea agreement. Objection. Sustained.
Has the government informed you it’s going to cancel your plea agreement? “No.”
Has the government told you because you made homemade alcohol… Objection. Sustained.
Did you break your agreement with the government by having friends come to jail on fake id’s? Objection. Sustained.
Relationship with Jahar:
Silva and Tsarnaev met in the eighth grade at Community Charter School in Cambridge and, according to Silva, they’ve been palling around ever since. They both graduated from Rindge and Latin in 2011 and Silva considered their relationship, “Very, very close.” Silva’s nickname for Jahar? “Jizz.” No comment.
After graduation, Silva headed down to Tampa to attend university while Jahar stayed on in Cambridge to attend UMass Dartmouth. Although miles separated them, they still kept in touch via texting, phone calls and Facebook. Their favorite topics were girls and partying. During that freshman year, Silva’s twin brother also attended UMass. There are some major discrepancies in tweets during this testimony: Silva may have been a lifeguard at a Harvard pool at one point, his brother may have been one, too. What I do know is that Jahar was definitely a lifeguard. All three of them were also dealing drugs.
Silva testified that after graduation he made anywhere from $500-$1000 week selling. He started selling weed in high school when he was 16 or 17—which puts us back to anywhere from 2010-2011 for all you USA vs. Madarati et al followers. Just a note, when he was in Tampa, Silva testified his suppliers were local and he was selling quarter pounds and half pounds of weed. When Silva came back to Cambridge in 2012, he continued selling drugs and hung out with Jahar at the pool, listened to music and smoked weed. Apparently, they liked to jump off some cliff in Swampscott during the summer. After the summer, Silva continued to stay in Cambridge selling drugs. However, in August, 2012, the cops came a knocking on his mom’s door looking for Silva for drug related things. He skipped town and headed back down to Florida where he stayed until November, 2012.
The Other Brother:
There was a third brother (he’s actually not a brother, just the same last name) that was friends with Silva, Nicholas Silva, who lived then in Revere. When Silva returned from Florida in November,2012, he stayed at Nick’s place. All three of them, Silva, his twin brother and Nick were all selling weed at the time. By 2013, Silva was making $1,000-$2,000 a week selling pot. On occasion, Jahar would visit but if not, they usually communicated a few times a week. During one deal, Silva said someone robbed his twin brother of 2 lbs of weed worth anywhere from $6-10k. Ouch. So what did they think would be the solution to this problem? Right! Get a gun. And at the end of 2012, or “late 2012,” the opportunity presented itself when their friend, Merhawi “Howie” Berhe asked them to hide his gun for him. A Ruger P-95.
After Howie gave the Silvas the gun to hold, Silva put it in the ceiling of his apartment in Revere. A few friends and associates knew about the gun, including Jahar who showed little to no reaction when he learned about it. On December 20, 2012, Silva and Nicholas held two people up at gunpoint in their car during a drug deal (because apparently $1-$2K a week in dope sales wasn’t enough). According to Silva, Nicholas was the one who pulled out the gun, Silva took the money. The couple they robbed “were in a state of shock.” Later on, when Silva told the story to Jahar, he apparently just laughed. Outside of the robbery, the first time Silva took the gun out to show people was during a New Year’s Eve party because, as he put it, “I was just being stupid, wanted to show it off.” Sometime after the party, in January, Silva and Jahar began discussing the gun. At one point, Jahar asked if he could borrow the it because “he wanted to rip some kids from URI.”
Again, sometime in January, Jahar stopped by the apartment with his friend Dias Kadyrbayev, another friend who is currently facing obstruction of justice charges (Silva will later testify that he had been to the apartment of Dias and Azamat sometime in the spring of 2013). When they got to the apartment, Silva, his twin, Nicholas and another guy by the name of Abdul were there. After previously storing the gun and its ammo in socks up in the ceiling, Silva took the gun out, which had a scratched off serial number, and handed it to Jahar who handled it. Jahar handed it to Dias but he refused to touch it. The rusty gun:
Jahar did not take the gun during that visit. Then, the next time he was going to come back and get it he decided not to because he had weed in the car. A few weeks later and sometime in February, Jahar came by in a UMass Darthmouth friend’s black Camaro and picked up both the gun and ammo. Silva was under the impression that he would return the weapon in a couple of weeks, max. But that didn’t happen. Instead, Jahar took the gun, “food for the dog” and never returned the gun to Silva. Ever.
When Silva asked for the gun back, Jahar acted sketchy. When Silva told Jahar that Howie wanted the gun back, Jahar hemmed and hawed. When Nicholas asked for the gun back, Jahar came up with excuses.
During cross-examination: Silva could not remember if he had shown the gun to Jahar first or merely told him about it. He also couldn’t remember if he had shown the gun to Jahar in January or February—originally he had said January. The defense also asked him if it had occurred to Silva that Jahar might not have had the gun anymore after repeat requests from Silva to give it back. The government objected and the court sustained it.
Jahar in School:
Silva testified that Jahar was a very good student with average grades during high school. He struggled during the first year of college but improved his grades by the second semester. Once, during a high school class Silva attended with Jahar, the teacher asked, “Was terrorism ever justified?” Jahar’s responded, “American foreign policy tends to be a little hostile to the middle east, persecuting Muslims….Americans shouldn’t be allowed to just go wherever they want and force people to believe things.”
Welp, whether you like it or not, Jahar’s got a point. But God forbid we address what the US has done to others. Right?
The Cambridge Apartment:
In the summer of 2012, Silva spent the night for the first time at the Tsarnaevs’ home on Norfolk in Cambridge. He met Katherine Russel and her and Tam’s daughter but not Tamerlan. Tamerlan was overseas at the time, spending holiday at the usual haunts such as training camps, the forest, or CIA-sponsored events. But what’s interesting is that Silva testified he had never, like never, met Tamerlan in all the years he had known Jahar. Furthermore, he claims to have never seen him nor had any idea what he looked like. When authorities showed him the Shell gas station surveillance tapes where Meng escaped the carjacking, Silva did not recognize Tamerlan in the video (surely there were better pictures they could have shown him for identification, right?). I’m not really buying his story but if true perhaps it was a good thing since Jahar had previously told him, “You don’t want to meet my brother.” So the night he spent over there, they spent watching the “The Walking Dead,” and really, the only point of testimony at this point was so the prosecution could show off things in Jahar’s bedroom like a black flag with Arabic writing hung on the wall.
Before living in an apartment with his twin brother and friend, Nicholas, Silva lived at his mom’s apartment on Memorial Drive in Cambridge. How far is it from the Shell Gas Station/Mobil station from which/to which Dun Meng fled after being carjacked? Oh, pretty much across the street. Fun fact, back in the day, Silva and Jahar went to the Shell station all the time to buy snacks, drinks and blunts. The last time Silva saw Jahar was in early April, 2013, in the parking lot of his mom’s apartment building; Jahar had shown up driving his friend Dias’ BMW and looking to score some pot. After Silva obliged him and put the drugs in the trunk of the car, Jahar brushed him off when Silva, once again, asked about the gun. Jahar appeared to be in a rush and as he took off with Dias, Silva told Jahar he loved him. That was the last time he saw him.
Jahar’s Clothing Choices:
Yes, apparently Jahar wore a knit Red Sox hat during the winter.
How often did Jahar go to NYC? “A few times.”
Silva testified that Jahar’s cellphone was turned off prior to the marathon but they still kept in touch via Twitter. He also testified that he had been at the 2012 marathon with Jahar and his twin brother. When Silva saw Jahar’s photo on the tv after a press conference, he threw away his cellphone and stopped selling drugs. He said he was in a “huge state of shock, disbelief, paranoia.”
The Drugs. Again.:
Although he completely stopped selling drugs after the bombing, he picked it back up by the fall of 2013 and started selling cocaine, prescription pills and Molly to “accommodate the clientele.” He got arrested for selling weed at the JFK/UMass station but was able to post bond. However, then he sold 200-300 grams of heroin to a confidential informant over the course of almost a dozen different occasions, totaling thousands of dollars worth of drugs. Not only that, he ran his mouth about the gun he gave to Jahar to the CI. ::facepalm:: It gets better. He talked about giving the CI money to whack some a guy who robbed him. Ai yai yai. Thank God he didn’t follow through with his request. However, he still got busted and this time he was also charged with possession of a firearm.
According to Silva, Jahar rarely got angry except when Silva called him a “Russian refugee” because he was very proud of his Chechen ethnicity. Jahar would call him a “kaffir” in response. He characterized Jahar as “one of the realest and coolest kids” he knew; popular, humble and never violent. He never picked on other kids at school and Silva never saw him in a fight.
Silva also expressed that he never heard Jahar say he resented the US and he rarely spoke about religion. He did, however, celebrate Obama’s election. And under cross-examination, Silva admitted that he may have introduced Jahar to weed and when the defense asked, “On Facebook, didn’t you say it was easy to corrupt him?” the government objected. Yup, you got it. Sustained. They also tried to question Silva about peer pressuring Jahar into smoking (like Silva told the FBI in an August, 2014 interview) but Silva totally backtracked and said he never pressured Jahar, Jahar smoked because he wanted to smoke.
Silva expressed his shock that Jahar could ever do something like the bombings because he had never seen a side of him that could commit such an act. And although he thought it was Tamerlan that had pulled Jahar into the planning and execution of the bombing—he posted it on his Facebook page—that line of questioning by the defense was objected to by the prosecution and sustained.
Rolling Stone Magazine:
Silva used the alias “Sam” in the magazine’s infamous cover story about Jahar.
Silva testified that Jahar had told him at one point that Silva did not want to meet his brother because Tamerlan was very strict, very opinionated and may very well have given Silva a bit of trouble for not being Muslim. When the defense asked if Jahar complained about his brother keeping him on a short leash, how Jahar acted when his brother called him, and what Tamerlan’s reputation was the government objected and the court sustained. Eventually the defense got busted for their line of questioning and everyone was called to sidebar.
One more defense question:
“Would you have loaned him the gun if he told you it was for his brother?” “No.”
61. FBI Agent Michael Nealon
Agent Nealon works on the ERT, or Evidence Response Team, in the FBI Pittsburgh office. He’s been a special agent for seven and a half years. He used to be a CPA. He was assigned to the boat scene on Franklin (Henneberry’s house).
Do you remember the carvings in the wooden slats in the boat? “Yes.”
Can you describe them? “We noticed carvings inside the boat. The carvings in wood were actually highlighted by the discharge of a fire extinguisher.”
Defense on cross:
People on the scene around the boat? “I took custody from a New York ERT Team.”
Lots of teams on scene? “Yes, sir.”
The search of the entire Franklin St. area took six full days, right? “About a week, yes. Several days alone spent on the boat.”
Did you take ballistics evidence? “Yes.”
And you collected evidence from other yards and houses in the neighborhood? “Yes.”
You took items from the boat? “Yes.”
Do you recognize the blood stains on the boat? Were swabs taken? “Yes, some.”
You don’t know if that’s the defendant’s blood or someone else’s do you? “I don’t.”
Did anyone test to see who’s blood it was? “I don’t know.”
Were there spent bullets in the boat? “Yes.”
Was there an engine block in the middle of the boat? “Yes.”
Did a bullet go through it? “Yes.”
Did you ever find a gun in the boat? Objection. Sustained.
Did you ever find any ammo on the boat? Objection. Sustained.
62. FBI Special Agent Jessica Ulmer
On April 19, 2013, Special Agent Ulmer, helped secure the boat scene around 9:45 pm. on April 19, 2013. Working out of the FBI New York office, she kept a log (or her team did) of every person who came in and out of the crime scene.
Here’s a map that gives you a pretty good as to what Special Agent Ulmer testified to:
Yup, folks, that’s right. Someone, odds being ninety-nine to one it was Jahar, broke into 63 Franklin and left a blood trail in the bathroom. Yeah. That happened. And not one reporter followed up on it? Shocking? Hardly. Let me help you out since no one in the biz is going to: First of all, 63 Franklin is owned by Joseph Morrissey and Patricia O’Meara. Worried I’m putting too much personal information out there? Don’t. These neighbors have done it for me.
Read all about Joseph Morrissey and his Watertown ordeal in the New Yorker → HERE.
That’s right. Morrissey chit chats it up in the article about how he was home until the 6pm restrictions on Friday were lifted, at which point he put his shoes on to go pick up his son. At no point did he notice or comment on any broken windows or blood in his bathroom. When he left the house, it was around the time Henneberry had called the authorities and they began to swarm the neighborhood. Henneberry and Joe had to leave their homes. The best part of the article? Here’s what Joe and his brother, Brendan, were thinking at the time:
“Tsarnaev, Joe realized, could just as easily have hidden in his garage or basement. (Brenden had the same thought: He could’ve easily broken into his house and held him hostage or shot him.)”
Wow, yeah. Scary to think what could’ve happened. Huh. How about we talk about what did happen: It appears Jahar did break into your home, left blood in your bathroom and you failed to notice this or, if you did, you led the media to believe nothing happened to your home. What in the what? Here’s another article that ran on these brothers → HERE.
Absolutely astounding the media has done nothing with this. It’s almost as good as 99% of the journalists out who are afraid to touch the St. Onge story. Or the witness to the Collier murder that never appeared in court story. If you’re bored at home, look up the other properties Joe owns. Then go listen to the police radio from the night of the Watertown shootout. That should be interesting. And why wasn’t Jahar charged with breaking and entering?
Okay, back to the story. Here are the smashed iphones and Meng’s debit card that were found behind the shed:
Now here’s one of the last and interestingly tweets that went out for day from @GlobeCullen: “As brothers prepared to head to NYC, they dumped Dun Meng’s debit card & phone, possibly to make it look like robbers still local.” Huh. Is Cullen telling us something we don’t know—like the Tsarnaev brothers dumped that stuff behind the shed before the shootout on Laurel Street?? Double huh.
The defense did a cross on this witness but only one reporter tweeted about it. Again, @GlobeCullen: “Tim Watkins cross. Asks about blind walk, but that’s it. And jury is excused for the day.”