Suspect Throat Injury: Unable to Talk to Boston Investigators

April 21, 2013 Updated: April 21, 2013

Suspect throat injury: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, may be unable to speak to investigators until his throat heals.

The key to understanding the attack on civilians at the Boston Marathon and its motives lies with a weak and injured teenager in Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The suspected bomber lies in a hospital bed, heavily guarded and recovering, in the same building as 11 victims of the attack. Police are anxious to interrogate Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, even invoking a public safety exception that will allow them to question the youth without reading him his rights.

A federal official told CNN, however, that Tsarnaev may be unable to talk until his throat heals.

Tsarnaev was pulled from a tarp-covered boat in a Watertown backyard where his older brother, Tamerlan, 26, was killed in a shoot out with police. The two brothers are considered the sole suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, report authorities. With the elder brother dead, the younger brother holds all the answers.

When Tamerlan Tsarnaev ran out of ammunition in the shootout, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev drove a car toward the officers and his brother, reports CNN.

The officers got out of the way, but the younger brother drove over the older brother, “and drags him a short distance down the street,” Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveau told CNN.

The elder brother was wearing an explosive device at the time. He died later at the hospital.

The American Civil Liberties Union and a federal public defender have raised concerns about questioning Tsarnaev without reading him his Miranda rights. The Miranda rights guarantee the suspect’s right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said the legal exception that allows investigators to proceed without reading the rights is “not an open-ended exception.” It is to be used in cases when public safety is immediately at risk. 

The federal public defender’s office in Massachusetts said it has agreed to represent Tsarnaev once he is charged.

Miriam Conrad, public defender for Massachusetts, said he should have a lawyer appointed as soon as possible, because there are “serious issues regarding possible interrogation.”

It is unclear as of yet what the charges will be. He could be charged with the use of a weapon of mass destruction to kill people.

“I, and I think all of the law enforcement officials, are hoping for a host of reasons the suspect survives,” said Gov. Deval Patrick at a ceremony to honor the victims and survivors of the attack on Saturday. “We have a million questions, and those questions need to be answered.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.