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Closing Arguments To Begin Monday In Boston Marathon Bombing Trial

The defense rested its case on Tuesday for admitted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after just a few hours of testimony. The defense called four people to testify compared to the 92 called by prosecutors.

Tsarnaev's lawyers have admitted he did what he's accused of doing. Their single aim is to try to cast Tsarnaev as less in charge than his brother Tamerlan — who died while they were running from authorities — and therefore less deserving of the death penalty if it gets to that.

The defense called in an FBI fingerprint expert to say that pieces of the bomb showed only Tamerlan's prints — none from Dzhokhar. So, too, with the bomb that exploded in a firefight days later. The exception was one Tupperware bomb found after the shootout. That had prints from both brothers, but more from Tamerlan.

A computer expert also testified — bolstering the idea of Tamerlan as the real, committed terrorist and Dzhokhar less so. He did a little compare-and-contrast between their laptops. He said Tamerlan's computer was used to search for fireworks, detonators and gun stores. Dzhokhar's wasn't. It was used mostly for social media. Also, the online al-Qaeda bomb-making instructions on Dzhokhar's computer, he said, were transferred from Tamerlan's.

Jurors get a few days off because of holidays and judicial housekeeping duties. Closing arguments are expected to begin on Monday, then the case goes to the jury.

And if they convict, these same jurors would come right back for a whole new trial on whether Tsarnaev should be put to death. And that's when this picture of Tsarnaev as young, vulnerable, intimidated by his older brother will really be drawn by defense attorneys who are hoping to convince jurors to spare Tsarnaev's life.

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Tovia Smith
Tovia Smith is an award-winning NPR National Correspondent based in Boston, who's spent more than three decades covering news around New England and beyond.