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Tsarnaev’s mother’s reaction could hurt her son in trial’s next phase, UB expert says

Most parents shift from denial to support, according to law professor Charles Ewing

By Rachel Stern

Release Date: April 10, 2015

“Immediate denial is the usual reaction right off the bat. The unequivocal ‘he would never do such a thing, it must be a mistake.’”
Charles Ewing, professor of law
University at Buffalo
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University at Buffalo law professor Charles Ewing said most parents are in denial right after their child is accused of homicide.

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s mother jumped to his defense after he was found guilty of the 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon, and that could hurt his chances during the sentencing phase of the trial, said University at Buffalo law professor Charles Ewing.

“I think anybody would be somewhat defensive of their children no matter what their kids have done and I have seen that repeatedly throughout my career, but this was above and beyond what I have seen,” Ewing said. “It could potentially be very detrimental to him if it becomes known to the jury.”

Throughout the trial Tsarnaev’s attorneys have been respectful of the victims and in an effort to avoid the death penalty, have acknowledged that he did this, Ewing said. His mother’s comments go against the evidence completely, and the timing couldn’t be worse.

However, her reaction isn’t completely different from the typical response Ewing has seen from parents whose children have committed homicide.

“Immediate denial is the usual reaction right off the bat. The unequivocal ‘he would never do such a thing, it must be a mistake’,” he said. “But when the facts are on the table, most parents then retreat to the supportive position, eventually saying whatever he did, he is my son and I stand by him.”

The difference here, Ewing said, is that Tsarnaev’s mother doesn’t seem to be making that shift from denial to support, and it could end up hurting her son.

Media Contact Information

Rachel Stern
Digital News Specialist
Tel: 716-645-9069
rstern2@buffalo.edu

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