Boston Bomb Suspect Facing Trial Loses Bid for Documents
November 28, 2014   By:    Boston Bombing, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev   Comments are off   //   519 Views

By Erik Larson

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lost a court bid to force prosecutors to turn over unredacted documents sent to U.S. authorities by the Russian government after the April 2013 attack.

Tsarnaev, 21, also lost a request for copies of papers regarding his lawyers’ alleged behavior while they were investigating the case in Russia. U.S. District Judge George O’Toole Jr. ruled in Boston today that prosecutors had already turned over everything they were required to.

Tsarnaev, a naturalized U.S. citizen from the Dagestan region of Russia, faces a possible death sentence if he’s convicted in a trial starting in January. His lawyers, who have worked on some of the highest profile U.S. death penalty cases, have argued for extensive access to government evidence as they seek to pin greater blame for the bombing on Tsarnaev’s late brother, Tamerlan, whose activities had once been flagged by Russia before the bombing and died in a shootout with Boston police.

Two improvised bombs, built in pressure cookers and concealed in backpacks, were detonated with mobile phones in crowds near the marathon finish line on April 15, 2013, in the deadliest terrorism attack on U.S. soil in more than a decade. Three people were killed and 260 wounded.

Impersonated Tourists

Tsarnaev’s lawyers were kicked out of Russia for pretending to be tourists and impersonating Federal Bureau of Investigation agents during interviews with possible witnesses, U.S. prosecutors said in September. The lawyers called the claim “preposterous.”

A Boston jury found Robel Phillipos, a former college student and close friend of Tsarnaev, guilty last month of lying to federal agents about visiting the suspect’s dorm room when incriminating evidence was removed. A jury in July found a second friend guilty of obstructing justice by removing the evidence, while a third friend pleaded guilty.

The three friends weren’t accused of being involved in the bombing or knowing about it in advance.

Tsarnaev, who is of Chechen descent, received asylum in the U.S. when he was 8 and took the oath of citizenship seven months before the attack. He was inspired by al-Qaeda and motivated by the killing of Muslim civilians in U.S. military actions, prosecutors claim.

The Phillipos case is U.S. v. Kadyrbayev, 13-cr-10238, and the Tsarnaev case is U.S. v. Tsarnaev, 13-cr-10200, both in U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Dunn at David Glovin


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