BOSTON — Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev befriended a brain-damaged anti-U.S. government conspiracy theorist through their mother’s health care aide job years before the deadly attack, a lawyer said Tuesday.
Attorney Jason Rosenberg, who represents the family of Donald Larking, said Larking shared publications with the brothers and discussed theories including that the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting didn’t happen or the U.S. government was behind them.
The attorney said the Tsarnaev family had a relationship with the Larkings that started years ago when the brothers’ mother began working as a personal care assistant for Larking’s wife, a quadriplegic since birth.
Rosenberg said Larking, who lives in West Newton, just west of Boston, was shot in the head in 1974 in an attempted robbery while working in a convenience store. He said Larking suffered brain damage that led to problems with his decision-making and judgment.
The lawyer’s account first emerged in a Wall Street Journal article, which included Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s former landlady talking about publications that had been in his Cambridge apartment.
Landlady Joanna Herlihy told The Associated Press she salvaged publications after authorities had searched the apartment and items were discarded. She confirmed that among them were an Alabama-based publication that uses a Confederate flag on its website and a weekly publication that the Southern Poverty Law Center calls anti-Semitic.
Rosenberg said Tuesday he doesn’t think Larking helped the Tsarnaev brothers, ethnic Chechens from Russia, formulate ideas but may have made them believe others felt as they did.
“(They) were seeing someone who was Caucasian and was born in America who was saying the same things,” the attorney said.
The brothers took Larking to their mosque, and he converted to Islam and still attends the mosque, Rosenberg said.