BOSTON — The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing was charged Monday with “using a weapon of mass destruction” that resulted in three deaths, according to documents filed in federal court.
The suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was charged by federal prosectors as he lay in a bed at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, officials said.
In a criminal complaint unsealed Monday in United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Mr. Tsarnaev was charged with one count of “using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction” against persons and property within the United States resulting in death, and one count of “malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death.”
If he is convicted, the charges could carry the death penalty.
The charges were announced one week after the 117th Boston Marathon began with a starter’s gun and ended in two deadly bombings, shortly before a statewide moment of silence was planned for 2:50 p.m. to mark the moment a pair of pressure-cooker bombs detonated.
The White House said that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev would not be tried as an enemy combatant. “We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary.
Mr. Carney noted that it was illegal to try an American citizen in a military commission, and that a number of high-profile terrorism cases were handled in the civilian court system, including that of the would-be bomber who tried to bring down a passenger jet around Christmas 2009 with explosives in his underwear.
Mr. Carney said the government had gotten “valuable intelligence” from suspects kept in the civilian judicial process. “The system has repeatedly proven it can handle” such cases, he said.