The federal government filed two charges against Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Monday, counts that could result in the death penalty if he's convicted.
Tsarnaev, 19, was charged with one count of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death, according to a statement from the Justice Department.
Tsarnaev made his initial appearance Monday before Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler in his hospital room at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston. A public defender was appointed to represent him, according to the office of the Federal Public Defender in Boston.
A probable cause hearing has been scheduled for May 30 in U.S. District Court.
The decision to charge Tsarnaev in civilian court put an end to speculation that he would be charged as an enemy combatant, a designation sometimes used against terrorists.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the decision not to treat Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant is "absolutely the right way to go and the appropriate way to go."
"We have a long history of successfully prosecuting terrorists and bringing them to justice and the president fully believes that that process will work in this case," Carney said.
The spokesman also noted that because Tsarnaev is a naturalized U.S. citizen, he cannot be tried by a military commission.
"And it is important to remember that since 9/11 we have used the federal court system to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists," Carney said.
Despite being seriously wounded and heavily sedated, Tsarnaev is answering brief questions from his hospital bed by nodding his head, a source with first-hand knowledge of the investigation told CNN Monday.
Authorities are asking the 19-year-old if there are more bombs, explosives caches or weapons, and if anyone else was involved, the source said.
Investigators are going into Tsarnaev's room every few hours to ask questions in the presence of doctors, the source said.
It wasn't immediately clear what he may be communicating.
Tsarnaev, who is on a ventilator and restrained, has been hospitalized since authorities took him into custody Friday night after finding him hiding in a boat in the back yard of a Watertown, Massachusetts, home.
His injuries include a wound to the lower half of his body and a neck wound, the source said. It wasn't clear when he received the neck wound.
Tsarnaev had also lost a lot of blood and may have hearing loss from two flash-bang devices used to draw him out of the boat, the source said.
Investigators believe Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were behind the attacks near the marathon's finish line that killed three people and wounded more than 170 others one week ago.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died early Friday at a hospital after a shootout with police.
The developments came the same day as memorial services for two people killed in the bombings and a planned moment of silence to honor victims.
Elder suspect's wife
With one suspect dead and the other hindered in his ability to communicate, investigators are eager to speak to Tamerlan Tsarnaev's wife, Katherine Russell, to see what she might know about incidents leading up to the bombings.
On Monday, her attorney said she learned of her husband's alleged involvement through news accounts.
"She knew nothing about it at any time," Amato DeLuca said in response to questions about whether Russell knew of plans to attack the marathon.
Tsarnaev stayed home and cared for the couple's 2-year-old daughter while his wife worked long hours as a home care aide, according to DeLuca.
The family is devastated, the attorney said.