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Tsarnaev Defense Seeks Discovery on FBI Visits to Tamerlan

Defense lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev filed a 23 page motion for discovery Friday. You can read it here.

The motion, which seeks a lot of information about Tamerlan and the family's history, is an attempt to get the Government to turn over documents that could be used as mitigation evidence in the death penalty phase to show Dzhokhar fell under the spell of his over-powering brother. The defense says it is asking for:

...any evidence tending to show that Tamerlan (Tsarnaev) supplied the motivation, planning, and ideology behind the Boston Marathon attack, and that his young brother acted under his domination and control … .”

The motion doesn't claim the FBI tried to get Tamerlan to be an informant. It says it has information from its interviews of family members that the FBI met with Tamerlan before his trip to Russia on more than one occasion and that the family said the FBI tried to get Tamerlan to be an informant. It's trying to find out if the the Government is in possession of information that supports the family's statements. [More...]

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Tsarnaev Defense Renews Request for "Taint Team" and Lifting of SAM's

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's defense lawyers have filed a motion (available here) renewing its request to lift the SAMs (special administrative measures) imposed by the Bureau of Prisons and to compel the Government to use a "taint team." The motion says "the defense is encountering obstacles related to FBI monitoring of family visits and BOP screening of materials that defense counsel need to review with the defendant."

When Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is visited by one of his sisters, the SAMs restrictions on him require the visit be monitored by the U.S. Marshals Service, Bureau of Prisons or FBI, so that the Government can determine if the visit is being used to pass messages soliciting or encouraging acts of violence or other crimes, or some other purpose that would violate the SAMs. The Government has recently said that an FBI agent present during a visit with one of his sisters heard Jahar make an inculpatory remark.

The original SAMs are here, and the defense argument against them is here and here. The modifications previously ordered by the Court are here.[More...]

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Dzhokhar Tsarnev Trial Set for November

The judge in the Boston Marathon bombing trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has set his trial to begin November 3, 2014. The defense had asked it begin in September, 2015.

The defense says the FBI has yet to turn over 2,000 pieces of physical evidence still being analyzed.

The defense has until June to decide on whether to seek a change of venue.

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U.S. to Seek Death Penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

The United States will seek the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It filed a notice today (available on PACER) listing the statutory aggravating factors and non-statutory aggravating factors. Among the non-statutory factors:

1. Betrayal of the United States. DZHOKHAR TSARNAEV received asylum from the United States; obtained citizenship and enjoyed the freedoms of a United States citizen; and then betrayed his allegiance to the United States by killing and maiming people in the United States.

2. Encouragement of Others to Commit Acts of Violence and Terrorism. In conjunction with committing acts of violence and terrorism, DZHOKHAR TASARNAEV made statements suggesting that others would be justified in committing additional acts of violence and terrorism against the United States.

[More....]

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ACLU Files Brief Opposing Tsarnaev Prison Restrictions

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is challenging the restrictive prison SAMS (special administrative measures) BOP imposed on his prison communications, including those with his attorneys. The ACLU filed this Amicus Brief today.

Among the restrictions: Defense attorneys have to pre-clear any documents they want to show Jahar with the Government. The Boston Herald reports:

In an affidavit attached to the filing, one of Tsarnaev’s lawyers stated that during a prison visit he was forbidden to show Tsarnaev photographs related to preparing his defense because they contained images of family members, which he is barred from seeing.

[More....]

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Seeks End to " SAMS" Restrictions

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's lawyers have filed a motion to end the SAMS restrictions on Tsarnaev and his legal team.

The SAMS imposed on Tsarnaev are attached to the motion as an exhibit. Take a minute to read them. But for all the alphabet references to federal agencies, I would have thought the jail was in Russia. The motion is here.

The documents also contain some interesting Government theories about Dzhokhar, some of which are at odds with other information released by the Government (the motion discusses this aspect.)

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New Tsarnaev Injury Photos Released

Boston Magazine, which first published the leaked arrest photos of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, has published another 48 images from the arrest scene. Like the earlier photos, these were taken by Sergeant Sean Murphy.

In this photo, an injured Dzhokhar lifts his sweatshirt. Presumably, this was in response to a request by law enforcement to show he did not have a bomb strapped to his chest. In this photo, you can see the number of agents with guns trained on him as he descended from the boat. This photo shows injuries to his face and hand while still on the boat.

Here's a video in which you can hear the barrage of shots fired at Tsarnaev, who was unarmed.

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DzhokharTsarnaev's Injuries

A few documents were unsealed in the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev case, including the transcript of his advisement at the hospital two days after his capture. The trauma surgeon attending to him told the judge:

He has multiple gunshot wounds, the most severe of which appears to have entered through the left side inside of his mouth and exited the left face, lower 18 face. This was a high-powered injury that has resulted in 19 skull-base fracture, with injuries to the middle ear, the skull base, the lateral portion of his C1 vertebrae, with a 21 significant soft-tissue injury, as well as injury to the pharynx, the mouth, and a small vascular injury that's been treated. He has, in addition to this, some ophthalmologic injuries that have been treated.

He has multiple gunshots wounds to the extremities that have been treated with dressings to the lower extremities; and in the case of his left hand, he had multiple bony injuries as well that were treated with fixation and soft-tissue coverage, as well as tendon repair and vascular ligation.

He was questioned for two days before this hearing, without being advised of his right to counsel. He was also being administered Diluadid, a potent pain killer, every three hours.

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Tsarnaev Friends Plead Not Guilty at Arraignment

Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, the friends of Dzokhar Tsarnaev who took items from his dorm room a few days after the Boston Marathon bombing, appeared in court today and entered pleas of not guilty to charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice. After court, Dias' attorney released a statement, which reads in part:

“Dias comes from a former Soviet-bloc region where police routinely are distrusted. Yet when authorities first approached him, he fully cooperated and for nearly 12 hours over two days Dias answered the FBI’s questions without an attorney or a Kazakh Consular official present,” the statement read.

“Dias also voluntarily turned over the computer from Tsarnaev’s room and told the FBI where they could find the backpack that contained a packet of fireworks. The FBI recovered all of the items because of Dias’ complete cooperation with their investigation.”

At Slate, Azamat's first lawyer, Harlan Protass, has an op-ed arguing against long sentences for the pair. The Government told the court today it expects to call 15 to 20 witnesses at trial.

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Two Friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Indicted

Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston on charges of Obstruction of Justice and Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice. The Indictment is here.

Robelo Philliipos was not indicted. His lawyer says he is still negotiating with the Government.

What's missing from the Indictment? Any reference to what the two told the FBI during their early interviews. Did DOJ conclude their statements were inadmissible? The Complaint against them had alleged: [More...]

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Media Wakes Up to Missing Docket Entries in Tsarnaev Case

I've complained a few times over the past months about the incomplete court docket in the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev case, suggesting that mainstream media should object. It's one thing to keep the contents of a motion or order sealed, it's another to keep secret the fact that a motion or order was filed. In May, there were 22 missing docket entries. The docket today shows more missing docket entries(and shows nothing has been filed since July 15.)

At last: A challenge from MA media:

GateHouse Media Inc., the parent company of several Massachusetts-based community newspapers — including The Herald News, the Patriot Ledger and the MetroWest Daily News — on Wednesday submitted a letter to federal district court objecting that the public docket maintained in the criminal case against Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is missing entries.

I quoted the MA rules and posted a graphic showing the missing entries in May, along with a graphic of how it's typically done in cases in other districts -- including terrorism cases, here [More...].

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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...]

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On the Cover of the Rolling Stone: Jahar's World

(Song here)

I'm sure there will be people outraged by the presence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone. I'm not one of them. I'm looking forward to reading the featured article about him.

[RS Editor Janet]Reitman spent the last two months interviewing dozens of sources – childhood and high school friends, teachers, neighbors and law enforcement agents, many of whom spoke for the first time about the case – to deliver a riveting and heartbreaking account of how a charming kid with a bright future became a monster.

I just wish they hadn't called him a "monster." Hopefully the article will provide some unbiased insights into Jahar from people that really knew him. It comes out August 3. [More...]

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Goes to Court

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is making his first federal court appearance today for his arraignment in the Boston Marathon bombing case.

He is already at the courthouse. The hearing is set for 3:30 pm. The appearance will be a short one. The courtroom is packed. His supporters are also at the courthouse. Here's a picture of them. A live feed outside the courthouse is here.

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Indicted for Boston Bombings

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Massachusetts. Among the charges are use of weapons of mass destruction. He is also charged in the killing of four people.

There will be a press conference at 3 pm ET.

The 74 page indictment is here.

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