How Pressure Cookers Get Classified as a WMD
WASHINGTON -- Accusing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of carrying out a WMD strike at the Boston Marathon could offer prosecutors a clear route to a conviction, even though the two pressure-cooker devices used in last week's attack do not fit the accepted definition of a "weapon of mass destruction," academics and former federal prosecutors said on Tuesday.
Tsarnaev , 19, could face execution if he is convicted of "using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction" in the twin explosions that killed three people and wounded more than 200 on April 15. The charge is possible due to an expansive legal definition folding such arms into a wider class of "destructive devices" that can include small explosives, even when such devices lack any of the chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear components associated with most WMD discussions outside of U.S. law.
"In some ways this is the easiest count to allege at this moment in time," said Michael Sullivan, a former U.S. attorney for Massachusetts. "The devices themselves fit very nicely within the statute."