(CNN) — The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings will not be designated an enemy combatant, but will instead face criminal charges in civilian court, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.
“This is absolutely the right way to go and the appropriate way to go,” Carney said of the case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Tsarnaev has been charged in federal court with use of a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death. If convicted, he could face the death penalty, the U.S. Justice Department says. Tsarnaev had an initial appearance Monday before a judge from his hospital room in Boston.
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 at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston 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 that killed three people and wounded more than 170 others a week ago Monday.
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.