Cop Who Leaked Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Photos Placed on Leave

Sergeant Sean P. Murphy, the State Police tactical photographer who leaked photos of a bloodied Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with a sniper's laser aimed at his head as he surrendered and departed the boat, has been placed on leave. He will have a hearing next week. He was not authorized to release the photos.

The U.S. Attorneys office, former prosecutors, police officials, a law professor and defense lawyers have all blasted Murphy's release of the photos.

“The release of these photos was completely unacceptable,” (U.S. Attorney) spokeswoman Christina DiIorio-Sterling said in a statement. [More...]

From the defense bar:

John Cunha, a former president of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, called the leak “disgraceful” and said that Murphy acted outside his bounds as a member of law enforcement.

“Does he think he’s our appointed champion against the fourth estate?” Cunha said. “Give me a break.”

Marty Weinberg

The leaked photographs “infect” that process, he said. “This is a profoundly serious experiment in American justice,” he said. “Can we give a fair trial to the least popular man in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts? I’m sure we can, but why make it more difficult?”

Murphy leaked the photos because he didn't approve of the Rolling Stone cover shot which he thought glamorized Tsarnaev.

The New York Times published the same photo on its front page months ago. (Rolling Stone cover here.) What's the big deal about Rolling Stone? Time Magazine and Newsweek featured Timothy McVeigh on their covers. Is it because Jahar doesn't look miserable and like he's suffering? Would this be better?

Of course, no one would publish photos of Jahar from five or six years ago and suggest he still looks like this now (/sarcasm.)

Has anyone read the Rolling Stone article? It has some interesting insights into his background. Some of those interviewed have previously made statements to the media. Most are provided a pseudonym, so we can't really tell how well they knew Jahar and how long ago their last contact was with him. Remember the "friends" that were only too happy to talk about Adam Lanza, when they hadn't seen him since kindergarten or the fifth grade? It doesn't seem to me like some of his closest friends, those who insist he's innocent, agreed to be interviewed. I hope they are saving their comments for the defense mitigation expert.

Tsarnaev's life as he knew it is over. With or without the death penalty, he's unlikely to leave prison except in a pine box. He'll be in a maximum security prison, probably in solitary, for years. Judy Clarke's toughest job may be convincing him he has something to live for, even in prison.

There is no need to continue to demonize Tsarnaev. If he committed this crime, he'll be convicted and punished. Should the United States declare its intent to execute this 19 year old, the least it can do is look him in the eye first.

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    Murphy's statement (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Semanticleo on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 10:00:07 AM EST
    As a professional law-enforcement officer of 25 years, I believe that the image that was portrayed by Rolling Stone magazine was an insult to any person who has every worn a uniform of any color or any police organization or military branch, and the family members who have ever lost a loved one serving in the line of duty.

    The RS piece was meant to explore the mystery of these two.
    Understanding the motivation is important.  If he's been a cop for 25 years and sees the overwhelming evidence against, why does he fear a sympathetic public?  I'm afraid cop mentality has been growing exponentially for decades, and their trigger-happy fusillade into the boat (remember the folks who insisted it was just return fire from an unarmed Ddawg) was both fear for themselves and Dorner street justice.

    "controversial" cover (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Philly on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 11:34:22 AM EST
    Agree 100% with the sentiments expressed here.  I don't understand why anyone would consider that cover in bad taste.  It depicts a recent photo of Dzhokhar, one that has already been published in other media.  It's not his fault he's telegenic.

    well, (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by bocajeff on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 11:46:48 AM EST
    do you not understand why or will you not accept the reasons for people being upset? I think many people here (and elsewhere) have been clear in their opposition to the photograph. I can understand why they would be unhappy while at the same time not agreeing with their position.

    What if they ran a cover with the photos of the three people who were murdered and then have his photo in a small insert?

    Let me go Godwin here for a moment. What if Dog Fancy magazine had Hitler on the cover discussing how humanely he treated his dogs. Or a Health magazine discussing how eating a vegetarian diet was good for Hitler's health.

    I believe in a free press and I believe in the free will of people to react any way they want. I don't have to agree, but I do understand it. Rolling Stone can do whatever it wants and explain away til the cows come home. It may be the best article ever written. But people can be upset and I would understand why.


    I can understand why people (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by sj on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 12:11:34 PM EST
    might be upset, and yet I don't accept their reasons. Bottom line is they want their "monsters" to look like monsters and not like a typical college student. That way they can dehumanize him and not care what happens to him and to others like him. They can make calls for the death penalty and feel justified in it.

    But if he looks human -- or like the handsome young man that he is/was -- well then that is "glamorizing" him (I note that you did not say that) and insulting to one's bias. Not that anyone would call it a bias, of course.


    Criminals are the perfect scapegoats.. (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by jondee on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 12:36:01 PM EST
    one of the last socially acceptable receptacles for the venting of unadulterated hatred..

    what would we do without them?


    You forgot smokers ;o) (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by MO Blue on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 12:38:32 PM EST
    not to be cavalier.. (none / 0) (#9)
    by jondee on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 12:45:20 PM EST
    and lets not forget those longsuffering candidates
    who were bounced off the Waterford Crystal ceiling in 2008..

    Let's build a fire and (none / 0) (#11)
    by Semanticleo on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 12:52:06 PM EST
    sing some songs;  form a lynch party.

    Xactly. (none / 0) (#8)
    by Angel on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 12:40:18 PM EST
    I don't think (none / 0) (#19)
    by jatkins on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 03:23:14 PM EST
    people need much motivation to hate him, or will be dissuaded by his looks. Comments sections outside TL and NYT have some pretty disgusting threads. Among the more benign ideas (as they go): skip the trial.

    Oh, I agree (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by sj on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 03:33:05 PM EST
    I don't think (none / 0) (#19)
    by jatkins on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 02:23:14 PM MDT

    people need much motivation to hate him

    And I didn't mean to imply that anyone would be dissuaded by his looks. What I said was that people want their "monsters" to look like monsters. If you doubt this, witness how many people are in high dudgeon that a flattering photograph of a handsome young man is now in circulation.

    rock star? (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Philly on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 12:16:01 PM EST
    People can feel however they like.  But I honestly don't understand the reason for people being upset. The cover subtitle is "How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical islam and became a monster."  That's hardly glorifying the guy.

    To me it doesn't look like Rolling Stone "fluffed and buffed" (to use Sean Murphy's words) him for a cover photo to make him look like a rock star.  The previously released photo depicts him as he truly appeared. It's disturbing that someone so normal looking is allegedly responsible for the carnage in Boston.

    Would a photo that included images of the victims have been more appropriate?  I suspect there'd be just as much of an outcry, if not more.


    This Isn't Saudi Arabia... (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 12:45:40 PM EST
    ...where we take to the streets over a cartoon.  It's a picture, that is all.

    A guy has basically lost his income over this non-sense.  It's a pic that ran in the NY Times.

    It's one thing to not buy the magazine, it's quite another to release police photos and possibly get your a$$ fired.

    Jesus, just when you think America can't get anymore whoosified, it proves me wrong.  God forbid they portray a criminal with anything other then evilness, where is my fainting couch, I am get light headed over a picture...

    You wanna get worked up over something real, go look at the pro-gun idiots trying to up-stand the Aurora Remembrance.  There are real people, not pictures, howling over their right to own guns, to people whose friends and family were killed by guns.

    Yeah where is the outrage over them not doing it tomorrow ?  They are busy have coronaries over a picture in Rolling Stone.


    A lot of it's (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by jondee on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 01:06:50 PM EST
    a timing thing: in another year and a lot of feelings won't be quite so raw and passions won't be running as high..

    Also, the premise behind the (imo) utterly bogus "victims rights" movement is that severely traumatized people are thinking clearly enough to be guiding voices in the quest to come to grips with criminal behavior..

    And righteous indignation sells as much as sensationalism and glamour do..



    The sgt. Has been placed on leave. (none / 0) (#13)
    by oculus on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 01:11:22 PM EST
    He is being pd.  and he has the night to notice and hrg. And appellate rights.

    How long is his leave? (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by MO Blue on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 02:10:05 PM EST
    This from the link above make it sound like he was relieved of duty for only one day.

    A State Police spokesman said Thursday night that Murphy had been relieved of duty for one day and will be subject to an internal investigation. "His duty status will be determined at a hearing in the near future," said spokesman David Procopio.

    I "knew" it would be paid leave (none / 0) (#14)
    by sj on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 01:15:47 PM EST
    and I predict they'll try to put him back to work on the down low. But they had to look as if they actually cared that he stepped out of line so egregiously.

    Still--at least the Dept. took action. That's (none / 0) (#15)
    by oculus on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 01:34:15 PM EST

    true dat (none / 0) (#16)
    by sj on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 01:39:08 PM EST
    Jeralyn's comments are disturbing (none / 0) (#18)
    by TycheSD on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 02:46:27 PM EST
    I guess I'm one of the fangirls, but I'm actually old enough to be this kid's grandmother.  

    I hope Judy Clarke is NOT able to convince Dzhokhar that he has something to live for if his life will be in a supermax prison.

    maybe someday (none / 0) (#21)
    by jatkins on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 03:26:59 PM EST
    they'll improve the conditions. Hopefully before he goes crazy from solitary. Even if he gets the death penalty, it could be a long wait. If they speed it up like with McVeigh, they'll be killing a twentysomething which is bad press.

    Change of venue for Tsarnaev? (none / 0) (#20)
    by TycheSD on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 03:24:18 PM EST
    Jeralyn had mentioned that if she were on Jahar's defense team, she would push to move the trial to Puerto Rico.  But that it might be unrealistic because of the inconvenience for witnesses.

    What about Rhode Island?  Here is something that Governor Lincoln Chafee said recently:

    Rhode Island Governor Lincoln D. Chafee (Indep.) recently explained his denial of a request to transfer Jason Pleau to the federal government for a potential death penalty prosecution. Chafee stated, " As a matter of public policy, Rhode Islanders have long opposed the death penalty, even for the most heinous crimes. To voluntarily let Mr. Pleau be exposed to the federal death penalty for a crime committed in Rhode Island would be an abdication of one of my core responsibilities as governor: defending and upholding the legitimate public-policy choices made by the people of this state." In his op-ed in the Providence Journal, the governor noted that Pleau had offered to plead guilty to murder in state court and accept a sentence of life without parole. Chafee rejected the accusation that his actions were driven by a personal opposition to capital punishment. The governor noted that Rhode Island abolished the death penalty in 1852, although a very narrow death penalty statute was put in place afterwards. That law was finally removed in 1984, and no executions occurred in Rhode Island after 1852.

    wouldn't that (none / 0) (#22)
    by jatkins on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 03:29:07 PM EST
    count against R.I.? i'm sure Eric "Personally Opposed To The Death Penalty" Holder will find a full-proof way if he wants Tsarnaev dead.

    How will he get a fair trial in MA? (none / 0) (#27)
    by TycheSD on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 04:25:24 PM EST
    As Jeralyn noted, it is likely that they would keep the trial within the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.  Those states are Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and the territory of Puerto Rico.  Of course, Puerto Rico would be ideal, as they likely would be the most non-contaminated potential jury pool.  But within that group, I would think Rhode Island would be the next best place.

    I can understand that Holder and the prosecutors in Boston are probably under tremendous pressure to seek the death penalty in this case, but Holder is personally opposed to it, and I would guess Obama is too, privately, even though he has to say otherwise because he has to be willing to uphold current laws, as does Holder.  


    I just mean if Holder seeks death, (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by jatkins on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 04:57:13 PM EST
    RI would have to be off the table otherwise why seek it? He knows Chafee is against it and it would just complicate things unnecessarily.

    Holder's opposition to the death penalty, like Janet Reno's and maybe Obama's, is meaningless because they have all been involved in seeking it in federal cases. afaik Holder is under no legal obligation to seek death, so he's choosing it if that's the direction it goes.


    Holder decision may depend on victim (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by TycheSD on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 05:22:03 PM EST
    sentiments - at least in part.

    According to his 2011 memo, Holder said that prosecutors

    "should consult with the family of the victim, if reasonably available, concerning the decision on whether to seek the death penalty," and include that information in their request to the Justice Department.

    Out of curiosity... (none / 0) (#24)
    by TH71 on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 03:57:38 PM EST
    how would a defense lawyer go about convincing a defendant such as Tsarnaev, who is likely to be imprisoned for life (most of it in solitary) that they have something to live for?  I'm curious as to the POV of any defense lawyers here.  Also, philosophically speaking, does a "lifer" placed in solitary have anything to live for?  How does a prisoner make life meaningful, namely prisoners in maximum security (such as Ted Kaczinski or Erik Rudolph) who have few privileges and probably no access to a job or education...?

    I think it's horrifying (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by TycheSD on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 04:19:57 PM EST
    I thought it used to be - before the 1980s, I guess - that people only went into solitary confinement if they acted up in prison.  When did this start being a routine way to punish people?

    There ISN'T anything to live for.  Prisoners in ADX Florence are doomed to insanity.  Atlanta Olympics bomber, Eric Rudolph, has written about this place, and it is not a place I would send even the worst, most disgusting criminal.  It's inhumane.  In February, Ramzi Yousef, convicted in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, pleaded with a judge to move him into a more open prison environment. Some agree his treatment is unconstitutional.

    This has to be joined with the cause of ending the death penalty because it is probably more inhumane than injecting someone with drugs to kill them.  That's what you do to humanely put animals out of their misery.  


    Yousef has been in solitary for 15 years (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by TycheSD on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 04:29:29 PM EST
    Just wanted to clarify, that Yousef is freaking out after 15 years in solitary.  Amazing that you would last that long.

    Yousef has even (none / 0) (#37)
    by TH71 on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 06:08:38 PM EST
    claimed to have converted to Christianity as an alleged "ploy" or factor to help his case for being moved out of solitary.

    Not so fast (4.50 / 2) (#31)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 04:57:05 PM EST
    Even Admax at Florence has a "step down" program where inmates can progress from essential solitary to the general population and eventually a less secure facility. It takes some years, but Richard Reid (the shoebomber) has already gotten to general population (at Supermax.) I've uploaded two affidavits from prison officials describing it (along with SAMS) here and here. If it's easier, you can read my description here.

    From one of the affidavits:

    It will take ... a minimum of 36 months to complete the Step-Down Unit program. The minimum stay in a General Population Unit is twelve months; the Intermediate Program, six months; the Transitional Program, six months; and the Pre-Transfer Unit, twelve months. It is the goal of the ADX to transfer inmates to less secure institutions when the inmate demonstrates that a transfer is warranted and he no longer needs the controls of the ADX.

    I am in no way justifying Supermax prisons, they are deplorable, my point is that the conditions may not last for life, particularly in the case of someone as young as Jahar.


    Did you ever think (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by CoralGables on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 05:09:17 PM EST
    You'd have people at TL thinking defense attorneys should encourage their clients to seek the death penalty?

    However, (4.00 / 2) (#38)
    by Zorba on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 06:10:44 PM EST
    Herman Wallace, one of the Angola Three, has been in solitary for over 40 years in Louisiana.  I don't know how he has remained sane.



    Thanks for the explanation (none / 0) (#35)
    by TycheSD on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 05:38:37 PM EST
    Sorry for all of the questions, but it's great to have access to someone who has knowledge of these things.

    Why are Rudolph and Yousef still in solitary after all this time?  And, Reid didn't kill anyone or kill a child, as Tsarnaev is alleged to have done.  I heard prisoners don't take kindly to child killers or child molesters.

    It seems like the rules at these places are arbitrary, not standardized.  They change the rules regularly.  Is that true?

    Granted, the people in Colorado wanted that prison built there to "create jobs," but I hope they close it down - just like the Tamms prison in Illinois.  Although, last I heard, Dick Durbin might reopen that place as a federal prison.  (The destructive things done in this country in order to "create jobs" is astounding!)

    And, is there a chance that Tsarnaev could be placed in another prison - closer to the East Coast, and his family?  I see that some murderers, gangsters, and terrorists are housed at prisons other than the Colorado Supermax facility.  How does the BOP determine where they go?  Is it about how much space is available?


    It's my understanding (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by TH71 on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 06:49:48 PM EST
    that Rudolph, Kaczinski, Yousef, and others are still in solitary because they are deemed a danger to others, if not physically, then ideologically.  I'm not an expert, but I have read that in order to keep those with radical ideas from "converting" or influencing others, they are kept away from others, not only in the prison, but their communication privileges with the outside world are severely restricted.  Witness "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh who is kept in a Communication Management Unit (CMU).  If we think supermax is bad, this is even worse.

    I'm not certain yet that Tsarnaev was truly radicalized to the point that he would placed in a such a unit.  And even if he was, these CMUs in my opinion, are not a humane place for anyone.


    That's true... (none / 0) (#39)
    by TH71 on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 06:19:44 PM EST
    ..Tsarnaev's youth may definitely play a role in the duration he would be held in solitary, though it would seem that for terrorists who have been convicted of actual killings, solitary is forever.  (Whether that following the rules and regulations of the prison, is another story...)   However, Richard Reid didn't kill anyone as Tsarnaev is alleged to have done.

    Sorry... (none / 0) (#40)
    by TH71 on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 06:21:33 PM EST
    ...meant to place this reply under Jeralyn's "Not so fast" post.

    Judy Clark has a remarkable success rate (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 04:20:33 PM EST
    at convincing her clients to want to live, from Kaczinski to  Eric Rudolph to Susan Smith to Jared Loughner. Here is an excellent article on how they do it, written by a seasoned and accomplished defender.

    No difference in prison conditions (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by TycheSD on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 04:38:09 PM EST
    between LWOP and death row.

    From the article you cited:

    Learn the differences in how death-sentenced, LWOP, and term-of-years prisoners are held in the system and communicate that to the client. Too often, death row inmates say they would have accepted a plea bargain had someone explained to them the significant differences in how prisoners are held on death row (23-hour-per-day lockdown, no TV, no contact visits ever), and how prisoners are held under a less-than-death sentence. Take the time to explain the differences in housing, visitation, and availability of parole when applicable.

    If you are unfamiliar with the differences in custody levels, ask capital habeas lawyers or read the current Classification Plan published by TDCJ. If you can get photographs of the various prison levels, use them to illustrate your discussions. Otherwise, a blank sheet of paper and drawings of cells, pods, and recreation and visitation areas can assist in showing clients (and their families in understanding) just how TDCJ imprisons those on death row and those serving non-death sentences.

    In these days of supermax prisons and Segragated Housing Units, and administrative solitary, there is no difference between being on death row and serving LWOP.


    There is one huge difference (none / 0) (#30)
    by CoralGables on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 04:43:35 PM EST
    I was thinking that the reason to live would (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by ruffian on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 05:51:27 PM EST
    be for  family and friends. At least there would be some contact with them, and they would not have to experience the death of a loved one under those circumstances. The article was interesting to me regarding the role of the family, and how insisting on a trial can be the accused's way of avoiding admitting guilt to his family. The suggestions the author had made a lot of sense.

    I hate to think of the defendants that have no one.


    For family, yes, although... (none / 0) (#42)
    by TH71 on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 06:31:48 PM EST
    ...in this case it seems it will be particularly difficult for Clarke to convince the family of guilt (if guilt is a fact) and therefore the merit of a plea.  In addition, Tsarnaev's own fierce loyalty to his brother will probably be very hard to work through (if in fact his brother was the mastermind).  It will be interesting to see if Tsarnaev will be an active participant in his defense.  At any rate, an immensely difficult case, this one.

    To be clear, the article does not suggest (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by ruffian on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 08:18:09 PM EST
    the attorneys try to convince the family of a defendant's actual guilt, but of the likelihood of being found guilty at a trial, given the known evidence in his/her case.

    I wonder if we'll ever know the Tsarnaev's plan...did they think they would get away with it? It will be an interesting case, to say the least.


    His parents aren't living in the U.S. (none / 0) (#46)
    by TycheSD on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 12:19:31 AM EST
    He has two sisters in New Jersey or New York, but I don't think he saw them much.

    Excellent indeed (none / 0) (#41)
    by TH71 on Fri Jul 19, 2013 at 06:23:03 PM EST
    Very enlightening article.  Thanks for the link!