Tsarnaev Lawyers Seek Evidence Against Death Penalty

Attorneys for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said they want to review the evidence that federal prosecutors are using to decide whether to seek the death penalty.

Defense attorney Judy Clarke told U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. in Boston today that prosecutors gave her team until last month to offer their pitch against a death sentence, without furnishing the defense with key evidence including grand jury testimony by Tsarnaev’s relatives.

“We would like to know if they have accurate information,” Clarke said. “They may have a completely erroneous story. We think it’s a matter of fairness the court should regulate the scheduling process.”

The double bombing near the marathon’s crowded finish line in April killed an 8-year-old boy and two women and injured more than 260 people. Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to a 30-count indictment accusing him of masterminding the attack with his brother, Tamerlan, who was killed during a police manhunt.

Miriam Conrad, another defense attorney, told the court today that the government had turned over a “large amount” of evidence in the case on Sept. 3, including digital evidence, computer hard drives and interviews with witnesses.

“Notably missing,” Conrad said, was evidence that might mitigate against the death penalty, including “grand jury testimony of family members and other information that could be exculpatory at sentencing.”

Deadline Extended

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Weinreb said the government extended its deadline to Oct. 24 for the defense to make its pitch to the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office and is responding to specific evidence requests. He argued that the judge has no authority to set deadlines for internal decisions by the U.S. Justice Department or Attorney General Eric Holder.

“The law does not require the Attorney General make that decision in any particular way or on any particular timeline,” Weinreb said.

Clarke told the judge it was “too early” to say whether the defense will seek a change of venue for the trial.

O’Toole said he would hold a meeting in his chambers with attorneys after today’s hearing to discuss “budget concerns” about the case.

The next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 12.

The case is U.S. v. Tsarnaev, 13-cr-10200, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

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