Will the Boston Marathon Bombing’s Original ‘Star’ Witness Testify?

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NBC's Matt Lauer interviews the "mysterious" Danny. Courtesy NBC

NBC’s Matt Lauer interviews the “mysterious” Danny. Courtesy NBC

The federal government’s case in the Boston Marathon Bombing hinges on the allegation that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was an equal to his elder brother, Tamerlan, in plotting and executing the attack.

Yet there’s a witness out there who said otherwise, and on a widely-viewed national TV broadcast at that: the still-anonymous carjacking victim “Danny.” The shadowy “Danny” told NBC interviewer Matt Lauer that Dzhokhar appeared to be a follower—an errand boy even—dominated by his older brother.

This the same “Danny” who said the brothers admitted to him that they carried out the bombing and murdered MIT cop Sean Collier. That was the crucial revelation “Danny” made that would favor the prosecution.

It is widely assumed that since the government claims to have such airtight evidence, his defense team’s best hope is to show that Dzhokhar was not a willing participant in the bombing and its aftermath. Rather, they’ll argue that he was coerced into the plot by his domineering older brother. That argument would, theoretically, help the defense avoid the death penalty for their client.

But the recent revelation that Stephen Silva, a friend of Dzhokhar who’s facing sentencing for drug and weapons charges unrelated to the bombing, struck a plea bargain means he will likely testify in the bombing trial. Silva is expected to testify that Dzhokhar procured the Ruger pistol allegedly used to kill Officer Collier, thereby undermining Tsarnaev’s defense.

Dzhokhar: Fellow Traveler or Flunky?

The importance of Silva’s testimony to the prosecution’s case was made apparent soon after his arrest this past summer. That’s when a high-ranking law-enforcement official anonymously told ABC News that proving Dzhokhar procured the weapon undermines any notion that he was an unwilling participant. It proved, the official said, that he played an active role in the conspiracy:

The defense is trying to paint Tamerlan as the mastermind, but they were working in concert and we have evidence that Dzhokhar secured the weapon.

But not long after the bombings, “Danny” painted Dzhokhar as the errand boy of his brother:

Matt Lauer: Did you get a sense, from the way they interacted with each other, that they were equals?

Danny: I think Jahar is like a follower.

Matt Lauer: Why do you say that?

Danny: Because… Jahar, he went out to the ATM. He went out to get the gas. Tamerlan never get out of the car.

Matt Lauer: So, he was the guy doing the errands.

Danny: Yeah, yeah.

None of this to say that “Danny” was telling Lauer the truth. He may not have been. An exclusive WhoWhatWhy investigation into “Danny” uncovered massive questions about his credibility. He has told multiple contradictory stories about the time he spent with the Tsarnaev brothers during the carjacking.

Nonetheless, “Danny’s” story about Dzhokhar’s relationship with his brother is one the defense may want to put in front of the jury. There is little risk to their case in doing so during the second phase of the trial, where the jury will decide what punishment to give Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

It will be interesting to see exactly how the government handles this a man who, at first, looked like he might be a slam-dunk witness for the prosecution. With Silva firmly under their control and linking Dzhokhar to the crime, it may be that prosecutors will decide that “Danny” is too risky to expose to cross-examination.

Will the mysterious “Danny” even testify? And if so, will it be for the defense?


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24 responses to “Will the Boston Marathon Bombing’s Original ‘Star’ Witness Testify?”

  1. sk1951 says:

    This stinks. One person is dead…his brother. The cop I think was shot by another cop. As usual…we will never know the truth.

  2. TessaC says:

    QUOTE: “One of the many unexplained (at least not officially) anomalies of the persons claimed to have carried out the Boston Marathon bombings is the presence of key CIA figure in the direct family of the accused brothers.

    Ruslan Tsarnaev, the outspoken uncle of the brothers was married to Samantha A. Fuller until 2004. Samantha’s father is Graham Fuller, the senior CIA person who was the architect the Afghan Islamic fundamentalist Mujahideen war against the Soviets. He is also involved in creating a global jihad network, presumably acting on behalf of CIA interests.”



  3. Lynn says:

    This time while under oath, it appears that Danny’s story conflicts with the video evidence. At the Shell we see the SUV pull up to the pump, with the back door fully in view. Yet Dzhokhar emerges from behind the pump next to the front passenger side. One consistant point in Danny’s versions is that when Dzhokhar joined them in the SUV he sat in the back seat directly behind him on the passenger’s side. While it might seem a minor detail, Danny’s dramatic escape story has him in a seat belt next to the front passenger door. I just hope the jury is paying attention, because the lawyers evidently are not going to call the pros on much.

  4. onetree says:

    “The importance of Silva’s testimony to the prosecution’s case was made
    apparent soon after his arrest this past summer. That’s when a
    high-ranking law-enforcement official anonymously told ABC News
    that proving Dzhokhar procured the weapon undermines any notion that he
    was an unwilling participant. It proved, the official said, that he
    played an active role in the conspiracy:”

    Another anonymous “official”?

  5. Richard_Pietrasz says:

    We know that the FBI already took out one “person of interest” by killing him. What we don’t know is to what extent the brothers were recruited by the US government. In a majority of “terror” prosecutions in USA over the last 15 years, that has been the case.

  6. Enrico Pallazo says:

    Can the defense call him to testify? Independent of what the prosecution decides? Instead of just cross-examining him, the defense could ask questions designed to show that Danny made false claims about the Dzohkars confessing the crime to him?

  7. oh_look says:

    This whole thing about “Silva” is all new to me. It’s like the government is whipping up evidence out of thin air.

  8. onetree says:

    There’s really no hint of fairness so far in the entire prosecution. Since there is apparently no intention to prove that Dzhokhar is innocent, there can be no fair trial.
    I’m quite sure this “star witness Danny” is someone who has been coerced in some way to make his statements. The “authorities” have zero credibility at this point IMHO.

  9. whatwaysup says:

    Defence should call uncle Ruslan and ex Daddy-in-law Graham FULLER. Establish the “pattern” with regards GLADIO. b. its material past – public bombings -real and staged – linking thru CIA NATO etc. They could call the great Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds as expert witness. Broaden the jury’s horizon.

  10. Jennifer O'Harah says:

    Why did the narrative change so many times? Did Danny get carjacked at 60 Brighton ave in Allston, OR at 3rd St in Cambridge? They are NOT near each other, and WHY would it be so specific as to being 60 Brighton ave? What is that connection? AND, why did they say on the scanner, that it was a “POLICE” suv that had been stolen on initial scanner reports? This is every important. Also, why no time stamp on the Shell gas station pic. And, if Danny is telling the truth about Tamerlan staying IN the car, WHY do we see Tamerlan looking in the window waiting for Dzhokhar OUTSIDE the store and not in the car like Danny claimed? It’s all total bullshit.

    • daniel wilson says:

      I agree! It’s all made up.

    • darlene says:

      @ jennifer the boys knew the cop he helped coach at the boxing jym they went to , check it out . I wonder if they were trying to meet that night also there is a photo on line showing the oldest boy in police custody then he’s DEAD ? hmmm

  11. a allen says:

    The deal Silva made is not a good sign. It stinks of classic DOJ intimidation – ‘Make a deal with us or go to jail for life or get tortured and murdered like that kid in Florida if you want. Your choice.’ I’d like to see ‘Danny’ compelled to testify under threat of perjury and see what deals he’s made.

  12. a allen says:


  13. a allen says:

    Will he testify non anonymously and under oath? Has been my question since day 1. Of course a plea to take the death penalty off the table would negate this and the fix being in will be official. Dzhokhar seems to be hanging touch. God know what’s be done to him. I pray for him.

  14. heartsonfire13 says:

    Sounds as if Danny completes the narrative written by the defense. Credibilty vs Credulous are long lost on this entire case and the jurors/ even included some bombing victims.

  15. daniel wilson says:

    I believe that Danny was carjacked like I believe in Santa Claus.

  16. jane24 says:

    Thought provoking article but would ask, in view of his “multiple versions”, how much credibility would “Danny” be credited with as a witness for either the prosecution or the defense? (But then again, I’ve witnessed FBI agents with seemingly serious memory issues testify in court and the verdicts in these cases served to suggest that the respective juries found these guys fully credible. Maybe “credibility” isn’t really an issue at all…?)

  17. Mary Jo says:

    Will Matanov testify seeing that he has changed his plea to guilty?