The plot thickens, again (via the WSJ):
Investigators have found female DNA on at least one of the bombs used in the Boston Marathon attacks, though they haven't determined whose DNA it is or whether that means a woman helped the two suspects carry out the attacks, according to U.S. officials briefed on the probe. The officials familiar with the case cautioned that there could be multiple explanations for why the DNA of someone other than the two bombing suspects—Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar—could have been found on remnants of the exploded devices. The genetic material could have come, for example, from a store clerk who handled materials used in the bombs or a stray hair that ended up in the bomb.
Innocent third party, or maleveolent co-conspirator? US authorities are on the case. If you're thinking, "what about Tamerlan's wife, who reportedly wasn't all that surprised to hear about her late husband's heinous acts?" you're not alone. The FBI had the very same thought:
On Monday, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents were seen leaving the Rhode Island home of the parents of Katherine Russell, the widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The elder brother died after a shootout with police four days after the April 15 bombings. Ms. Russell has been staying with her parents since the bombings, and FBI agents have been seen posted outside the home since her late husband was identified as one of the bombers. Her lawyer has said she is "doing everything she can to assist with the investigation." One official familiar with the case said agents went to the house Monday to collect a DNA sample from Ms. Russell, the culmination of days of negotiations. FBI officials also have been negotiating with Ms. Russell's attorney in recent days to get fuller access to question her, the officials familiar with the case said. The officials briefed on the investigation said the DNA request was needed to determine whether it matched the DNA found on the bomb remnants.
Dear old mom might be at the top of my list, too, if she weren't living thousands of miles away. Prior to shutting down post-Miranda warning, Dzhokhar told investigators that he and his brother acted alone. There are plenty of reasons to be dubious of that claim. First, experts say the technical complexity of the bombs they constructed betray a fair degree of expertise. Tamerlan may have gained all the requisite, sophisticated know-how during his infamous six-month visit to Dagestan, or they might have had some extra help. Second, there's all the chatter about additional "persons of interest" being sought in the case, the series of arrests and detainings in New Bedford, and the mystery of "Misha" the unidentified radical. None of these elements point two a simple two-man operation. Third, I'm deeply distrustful of the younger brother's storyline. He's supposedly telling everyone who will listen that the whole plot was cooked up by his older brother, which may be true, but also seems awfully convenient. Sure, Tamerlan was known to family members as the more aggressive radical, but Dzhokhar ran him over with his getaway car on the heels of the brothers' intense fire-fight with cops. And Dzhokhar was the one who had the calculating presence of mind to tweet misleading messages to deflect any suspicion from himself in the immediate wake of the attack. And he was the one who casually swung by a campus kegger within hours of murdering three people and wounding hundreds. This 19-year-old isn't just some wide-eyed kid who got caught up with the wrong crowd. He's an insanely cold, ruthless operator in his own right. The point is that if Dzhokhar says he and his brother received no outside assistance, nobody should simply take him at his word -- especially in light of the female DNA evidence. It seems as though American authorities are doing no such thing, which is good. Too bad their interrogation process was short-circuited by a quasi-judge:
Now the news comes that the person who actually read the Miranda warning to Tsarnaev wasn't even an FBI agent, but a U.S. magistrate judge (magistrate judges are sort of like junior federal judges -- they are appointed by the courts to assist them, but they are not real judges, and are subject to revision by real federal judges). This is an outright violation of the separation of powers. It is not for federal judges, or worse yet their assistants, to rove around looking for criminal cases in which to act as law enforcement agents. The decision whether to read Miranda lies up to the executive branch. The right of the courts to affect the warnings and conditions of interrogation stems only from their control over the criminal trial of the suspect. Miranda itself is only a declaration by the courts that they will exclude from evidence any confessions received without a warning.
The immediate drama is over, but this case is most certainly not.