In Chelsea Bombing Trial, a Lesson on How a Phone Becomes a Trigger

In Mr. McFarlane’s test, the timer went off, and the lights lit up. Anything connected to the wires would receive power when the phone vibrated, he testified.

On Tuesday, jurors also saw another aspect of Mr. Rahimi’s life: a series of F.B.I. photographs that amounted to a virtual tour of his crowded home, beside his family’s chicken restaurant in Elizabeth, N.J. Photo after photo showed piles of clothes on the floor and clutter on seemingly every flat surface.

Mr. Rahimi’s lawyers seemed to seize on the condition of the home, perhaps hinting that what they described as its “disarray” would be the basis of an argument in his favor.

“That could be the result of how the tenants kept it, correct?” asked one defense lawyer, Meghan J. Gilligan, on Tuesday, questioning an agent about a photograph of a disorganized closet. “Fair to say there are numerous other items in the closet, correct? Stacked, fair to say, floor to ceiling, correct?”

There were also images from outside the home, its siding wilted and in disrepair in spots. Two days before the bombings, Mr. Rahimi and a female companion stepped into the backyard, apparently unaware that a surveillance camera from a neighboring business was trained on them.

In the video, Mr. Rahimi placed an object in the ground while the woman filmed. The object burst into a tall column of flame for a second or two. Prosecutors also showed jurors the video from the woman’s phone, which, unlike the rooftop camera, contained audio. Both she and Mr. Rahimi can be heard laughing. Three or four kittens ran scurried the yard.

Investigators later examined the spot in the grass where the device had been, “burn marks that were awfully large,” one agent testified Tuesday, finding what looked like the bottom of a charred flower pot and pieces of a burned cellphone.

Prosecutors are nearing the end of their presentation of evidence against Mr. Rahimi, having said they intend…

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