The Boston Marathon bombing suspect's trial began two weeks ago, but without photos from the courtroom, little can be seen of the alleged bomber. However, courtroom sketches of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev allow a bit of insight into what's actually happing in the Boston court. Although they're not as informative as real photos, we'll take what we can get.
Tsarnaev, 21, faces 30 federal charges, 17 of which carry the death penalty, for the April 2013 attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. Massachusetts district attorney Marian Ryan announced Thursday that she plans to prosecute Tsarnaev for the murder of MIT police officer Sean Collier after this trial concludes. The alleged bomber has many months of court ahead of him, as his current trial is expected to last up to four months.
Many of the courtroom sketches of Tsarnaev were drawn by Art Lien, who's first name is extremely fitting for his chosen profession. Lien usually works as a sketch artist for NBC News at Supreme Court hearings, but will spend the next few months in Boston bringing the marathon bombing trial to life for those outside the courtroom. Because these drawings are people's only real glimpse into the trial, everyone is now seeing Tsarnaev through Lien's eyes, or rather, his pencil. In an interview with Boston.com, Lien says:
People said I made him look too old. He is young, but he has a very strange look, his eyes. Almost seems like he just woke up, or he’s high.
Sketches offer a unique insight into the trial, because you aren't seeing the action in real time. Although only one man's impressions, Lien's drawings depict how someone in the presence of Tsarnaev day after day interprets the suspect's demeanor, though other sketch artists' completely varied depictions of the man on trial show how differently people view Tsarnaev. His hair especially looks very different from drawing to drawing.
Lien believes the courtroom sketch artist industry has died out over the years, as more cameras enter courtrooms across the country.
There used to be many more of us. It used to be that every network had their own artist. Local stations often had their own, too. And then papers often had their own. At a trial like this you would have had four to eight artists. So far for Tsarnaev there are just two of us.
We're grateful a few have stuck around so the country can get a glimpse into what Tsarnaev's trial looks like. Images give a story something words sometimes cannot.