Massachusetts federal prosecutors say they will push forward with an Oct. 31 deadline to decide whether to seek the death penalty against suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, in spite of the defense team’s complaints that it is not getting enough time to prepare their arguments against the sentence.
US Attorney General Eric Holder will ultimately decide whether to pursue the death penalty against Tsarnaev, but he will base that decision in large part on input from US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz of Massachusetts. Under the Justice Department’s death penalty case review procedures, when Massachusetts prosecutors send their recommendation to Washington, the file is also expected to include arguments from Tsarnaev’s team against the death penalty.
Lawyers from Ortiz’s office said during a federal court hearing today that they plan to make a recommendation by Oct. 31. They originally had set a deadline to hear from the defense team by August. An assistant US attorney said today that the defense had until Oct. 24 to submit its filing to them.
AP coverage is, "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Boston Bombing Suspect, Could Face Death Penalty, Attorney General Still Weighing Options," by Denise LaVoie. It's via HuffPost.
Federal authorities plan to recommend whether to seek the death penalty against Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev by the end of next month and expect U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to decide early next year whether to pursue it, prosecutors said Monday.
But Tsarnaev's lawyers objected to the timetable and asked a judge for more time to make their case against the death penalty.
During a status conference in U.S. District Court, Tsarnaev's lawyers said they have not received key evidence from prosecutors yet – including interviews or grand jury testimony of Tsarnaev's family – and have not had enough time to submit a proposal arguing that Tsarnaev does not deserve the death penalty.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Weinreb argued that the defense has had almost six months since the bombing. He said federal prosecutors plan to make a recommendation to Holder by Oct. 31. He will have the ultimate say on whether to seek the death penalty; his decision is expected by Jan. 31, Weinreb said.
"Accused Boston bomber will learn by January if U.S. will seek death," by Scott Malone for Reuters.
Defense attorney Judy Clarke, a death-penalty specialist, told the court she was concerned that the prosecutors planned to decide whether to seek execution before the defense had finished reviewing the evidence.
"It's pretty stunning to say they can make a decision based on what they know without any defense input," Clarke said. "They may have an erroneous story."
O'Toole also warned attorneys that he planned to review all requests to enter documents into the record under seal, which blocks them from public view.
"Before something can be filed under seal, there must be a motion to seal explaining the reason why the matter should be placed under seal ... and indicate when the matter might be unsealed," O'Toole said.
"Lawyers in Boston bombings case tangle over death penalty issues," is the Los Angeles Times report by Alana Semuels.
Federal prosecutors tangled in court Monday with defense lawyers for Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev over the government's timeline to make a decision on whether to seek the death penalty in the case.
Both Tsarnaev’s defense attorneys and the U.S. District Attorney for Boston are required to submit information to U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. about whether the government should pursue a capital case against Tsarnaev.
Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to numerous charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction in the twin bombings that killed three and injured 260 at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15.
At Monday’s status hearing, the defense said it needed more time to submit its argument against the death penalty. It also asked for the government to turn over interviews with Tsarnaev's family members as well as grand jury testimony, according to the Boston Herald. Defense lawyers also said that the government had redacted too much information from the documents.
Mass. Lawyers Weekly posts, "Agreeing to disagree on death in Tsarnaev," by David Frank.
Holder is expected to make his decision by Jan. 31, which likely will be announced in a written filing.
Tsarnaev did not appear in court for the proceeding. While all defendants have an absolute right to attend hearings, many waive their appearances. I don’t expect we’ll see Tsarnaev anytime soon.
The parties return to court on Nov. 12.
"Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lawyers seek govt. evidence," by Laurel J. Sweet for the Boston Herald.
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev yesterday asked a judge to require the government to turn over interviews with the accused terrorist’s family as well as grand jury testimony, arguing the evidence could be critical as both sides prepare to make their death penalty arguments to the Justice Department.
“The government has taken the position that, ‘Look, we know what we have and you don’t need to know about it,’ ” attorney Judy Clarke told U.S. District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. “It’s of concern that the government thinks it can make a decision based on what they know without some defense input. They may have a completely erroneous story.”