Roseann Sdoia saw two flashes of white light at her feet near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, looked down, and for a split second thought to herself: I’m wearing strappy sandals.
She quickly realized, no — she was looking at her foot dangling from her mangled leg.
“Someone came running over to me and told me I had to get out of there. I told them I couldn’t get up. I didn’t have a leg,” a sobbing Sdoia testified Thursday at the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the 2013 bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 260.
Walking across the courtroom on an artificial limb plainly visible below the hemline of her skirt, Sdoia took the stand as federal prosecutors continued trying to drive home the horror of the attack in such graphic detail that Tsarnaev’s lawyers objected — and were overruled.
Sdoia, who was at the race as a spectator, said she saw wounded people all around her, including someone covered with soot, completely dazed and “walking around like a zombie.”
“It was almost like I was starring in a horror movie, as everybody else was around me,” she said.
Prosecutors also showed the jury a grisly photo of her shredded leg.
Tsarnaev, 21, could get the death penalty if convicted. His own lawyer admitted the former college student took part in the bombings.
But in a bid to save Tsarnaev from a death sentence, she argued that he was influenced by his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a getaway attempt days after the bombing.
Another witness, Boston police Officer Lauren Woods, described trying to help save Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student who was among those killed.
Woods said she helped do chest compressions and kept talking to Lu as the young woman’s whole body shook and her eyes “kept rolling in and out.”
Lu was put in an ambulance, but seconds later a paramedic told Woods to take her out because “she was gone” and the ambulance was needed for those who could be saved.
Earlier Thursday, Jeff Bauman — who lost both legs in the attack and was photographed being wheeled away that day in one of the most widely seen images of the tragedy — testified that he locked eyes with one of the bombers shortly before the twin blasts.
“He was alone. He wasn’t watching the race,” said Bauman, who walked slowly into court on two prosthetic legs. “I looked at him, and he just kind of looked down at me. I just thought it was odd.”
Later, from his hospital bed, Bauman remembered the man’s face clearly enough to give the FBI a description of someone authorities say turned out to be Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Before testimony began Thursday, Tsarnaev’s lawyers complained to the judge that the survivors’ testimony from the previous day was too gruesome and that such accounts should be limited.
Defense attorney David Bruck said that under the federal death penalty law, victim-impact testimony is supposed to be presented during the second phase of the trial, when the jury decides on the punishment.
Prosecutors denied that any of the survivors gave victim-impact testimony and said they merely described what they saw.
U.S. District Judge George O’Toole Jr. agreed with prosecutors and refused to limit survivors’ testimony.