The fourth status conference in the matter of United States v. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev took place today, April 16th at 10am, with all regular parties in attendance. Marc Fucarile, a severely-injured victim, was also in the courtroom today and says he plans to attend as…
Who Arrested Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?
Read the whole article 👇 it’s not that much.
(NECN) - The legal team for the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect is requesting an extension of the deadline to file motions suppressing evidence.
According to the motion, which was filed in federal court in Boston Tuesday, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s legal team says earlier motions to suppress evidence have raised “complex issues,” which the attorneys have to discuss as they narrow the focus of their argument in court.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers say there were at least 35 federal and state search warrants executed in connection to the case.
They’re asking to push back the deadline to file motions suppressing statements to April 23 and motions suppressing evidence to May 7.
Tsarnaev’s federal trial begins in November 2014. Tsarnaev and his older deceased brother Tamerlan are accused of orchestrating the April 15 attacks at the Boston Marathon finish line that killed three people and injured more than 260 others.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s defense lawyers have initiated a bunch of motions since the last status hearing. The most meaningful one is probably Doc-233, a “Motion to Compel Discovery of Favorable Evidence”, published on March 28. On the surface, it seems to acknowledge Dzhokhar’s guilt by using mitigation arguments, but this misinterpretation has been annilihated quickly by a tweet from David Frank. The defense has to follow a two-pronged strategy: make the case that he’s not guilty and prepare for the possibility that he’s found guilty.
Doc-233 obviously belongs to the second department. The part of it that raised the biggest attention is the defender’s claim that the FBI tried to recruit Tamerlan as an informant before the bombings, something which the FBI flatly denies. The claim is shrouded in a request to obtain all documents concerning Tamerlan’s FBI contacts:
We base this on information from our client’s family and other sources that the FBI made more than one visit to talk with Anzor, Zubeidat and Tamerlan, questioned Tamerlan about his internet searches, and asked him to be an informant, reporting on the Chechen and Muslim community.
The prosecution answered:
The government has no evidence that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was solicited by the government to be an informant. As for information about any contacts between the government and other Tsarnaev family members, it appears from your letter that this information is already available to you through the family members themselves.
So for the prosecution, the Tsarnaev family deserves no credibility when it comes to Tamerlan’s FBI contacts. Period. But the defense doesn’t let the prosecution get away with this evasive move, now with a distinct emphasis on the “other sources”:
The defense has learned of the FBI’s contacts with Tamerlan through other sources (including hearsay references contained in FBI 302s from various community sources). No one other than Tamerlan and the agents involved were actual witnesses to what transpired, and absent verification from the government itself, the defense will have no direct evidence to establish reasons for these contacts, or their number, nature, and content. This information is critical to explain Tamerlan’s changes in behavior and functioning, and should be disclosed.
Given that the FBI’s policy has always been to deny any contacts to the family before April 15th, and that it would be most embarassing for both parties to admit that they are wrong, we can expect that the defense’s claim is resilient and these other sources go far beyond the mentioned hearsay references, with an unknown number of people who are ready to testify if necessary. This is an open challenge to the government and shows a remarkable strength on the defense’s part.
The FBI/prosecution looks cornered. They can’t even cite national security reasons for withholding the documents, because the documents don’t exist – according to the prosecution. Most big US media chose to ignore these embarassing news, with the remarkable exception of the Boston Globe. So far the FBI/prosecution has not substantially reacted to the defense’s filing – Carmen Ortiz declined comment, and the Boston FBI repeated a statement from last October (source).
It will be interesting to see which position Ortiz will take on the next hearing on April 16th. She has a dilemma – if she caves in to the defense and admits and delivers the documents, it will cause a national outcry; if she insists on having no files, she enters a gamble with unknown risk because the defense has not been explicit about the bandwidth of their “other sources”, but very explicit about their determination to activate them. This could spark an even bigger public debate on the FBI’s habits than what is happening now already.
This move of defense bears the handwriting of Miriam Conrad. Before she attended Harvard Law School and became a lawyer, she was a reporter for the Miami Herald:
I met Conrad in the early 1980s when we were both rookie reporters in the Miami Herald’s Ft. Lauderdale newsroom. I recall a tiny, funny and fiercely intelligent woman — the sort that patronizing male colleagues might call spunky before they became acquainted with Conrad’s startlingly powerful rabbit punch.
“She was a real street journalist, and smarter than the rest of us,” recalls Ernie Torriero, a Voice of America editor who worked with Conrad at the Herald and later at the Kansas City Times. Christine Spolar, an editor for London’s Financial Times who attended Northwestern University with Conrad and has remained a close friend for 35 years, remembers an analytical journalist who “loved to explore the whys and what-ifs” and worried perpetually that she had overlooked some critical witness to the story she was trying to tell.
It appears that Dzhokhar could have found no better advocate, because he can certainly need the qualities of a “street journalist” who tries to reach out for all “critical witnesses”. Additionally she has much experience with the FBI and its notorious “sting” operations: approaching, instigating, and supporting potential violent perpetrators, preferably with a Muslim background. Conrad’s last client wasRezwan Ferdaus. In an interview from January 2013, she tells his story: he was contacted by an heroin-addicted “informant” on the FBI’s payroll, who introduced him to two undercover agents masquerading as Al Qaida operatives. The group developed a ridiculous plan to attack the Pentagon and the Capitol Building with self-constructed model airplanes loaded with C-4 explosives. Needless to say, this unworkable plot was never executed. Ferdaus was busted when the FBI had achieved enough incriminating evidence (like a photo where he poses with a AK-47). It is unclear if it was him who had the idea for the plot or the informant, but it is very clear that he lacked the intellectual, material and technical capacities to perform this attack. In other words: the FBI produced the plot that they allegedly prevented.
Miriam Conrad says in the interview that the FBI inflated a thought crime to a terrorist felony. And she criticizes the government’s excessive use of sting operations. Anyone who has heard this interview will come to the firm conclusion that she will never be satisfied with a plea deal and the cover-up of the operations behind the bombings. She’s well aware of the political dimension of the case, and she’s also used to defend people who are hated by everyone and the hostilities coming along with that. That’s probably why so many article on the Tsarnaev case end with “Miriam Conrad declined comment”.
Moreover, she has the qualities of a street journalist, and it is safe to assume that she has made every endeavor to find those “other sources” not only for Tamerlan’s FBI contacts, but also the Watertown Shooting, the MIT shooting, the boat shooting, and most certainly the bombing itself – the last one being an event with a potential of hundreds of “critical witnesses”.
Lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asserted Friday that his older brother and alleged accomplice had been encouraged by the FBI to be an informant and to report on the Chechen and Muslim community, according to court records.
“We seek this information based on our belief that these contacts were among the precipitating events for Tamerlan’s actions during the week of April 15, 2013, and thus material to the defense case in mitigation,” the lawyers said in their court filing.
“We base this on information from our client’s family and other sources that the FBI made more than one visit to talk with Anzor [his father], Zubeidat [his mother] and Tamerlan, questioned Tamerlan about his Internet searches, and asked him to be an informant, reporting on the Chechen and Muslim community.
“We do not suggest that these contacts are to be blamed and have no evidence to suggest that they were improper, but rather view them as an important part of the story of Tamerlan’s decline. Since Tamerlan is dead, the government is the source of corroboration that these visits did in fact occur and of what was said during them.”
The lawyers suggested that Tamerlan Tsarnaev could have misinterpreted his interactions with the FBI as pressure from the agency, and that they could have “increased his paranoia and distress.”
The defense wants to investigate those factors as it seeks to portray Tamerlan as a dominating family figure who may have pushed the younger Dzhokhar to take part in the April 15 bombings last year. Tamerlan was killed days after the bombings in a confrontation with police in Watertown.
The lawyers’ allegation, based on conversations with family members and other sources, was made in a 23-page court filing Friday in which the lawyers sought a court order forcing prosecutors to turn over more evidence in the case.
Specifically, they want additional evidence about Tamerlan’s radical views, which would be useful in the lawyers’ defense against the death penalty.
Lawyers argued that, now that prosecutors have declared they will seek capital punishment, Dzhokar should be allowed to present evidence of mitigating factors that would tilt a jury against the death penalty.
Those factors include evidence about his age at the time of the bombings, which was 19, his lack of criminal history, and the possible influence of others, specifically a radical older brother, court records said.
“The underlying data concerning the brothers’ activities, state of mind, and respective trajectories is critical,” the defense said. “Evidence that shows Tamerlan to have had a substantially longer and deeper engagement than his younger brother with extremist and violent ideology is mitigating for the light that it sheds on their relative culpability.”
Prosecutors did not immediately respond to the defense request, though defense lawyers conceded that they have a March 14, 2014, letter in which prosecutors said they had “no evidence that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was solicited by the government to be an informant.”
Although the FBI does not comment on court matters, the bureau cited a statement Friday that it made Oct. 18, 2013, which said, “The Tsarnaev brothers were never sources for the FBI, nor did the FBI attempt to recruit them as sources.”
Dzokhar Tsarnaev, now 20, faces a 30-count indictment in his alleged role in the bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260. He and Tamerlan also allegedly shot and killed an MIT police officer before the confrontation with police in Watertown.
Tsarnaev is being held at the federal prison at Fort Devens in Ayer. He is slated to go to trial in November.
Prosecutors have described him as a young Muslim extremist who wanted to carry out jihad, or holy war, against the United States. They alleged the brothers learned to build the bombs through websites that supported Al Qaeda.
In court requests filed late Friday, the defense lawyers sought a court order to force prosecutors to turn over a list of records, including reports related to the fatal shooting of MIT police Officer Sean Collier, the Watertown confrontation, and any evidence that an MBTA police officer was shot by fellow officers, rather than by Dzokhar Tsarnaev, who the lawyers say was unarmed.
The request also targets records of the brothers’ Internet searches.
One of the court requests asked for any information prosecutors collected under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act including any surveillance of Tamerlan’s return visits to Dagestan and the Chechnya region before the bombings.
A recent US House of Representatives homeland security report indicated FBI officials in Moscow may have collected “electronic communication” between Tamerlan and a jihadist named William Plotnikov.
“Any surveillance, evidence, or interviews showing that Tamerlan’s pursuit of jihad predated Dzhokhar’s would tend to support the theory that Tamerlan was the main instigator of the tragic events that followed,” the defense lawyers argued.
The lawyers are also seeking the immigration records of Tsarnaev’s family members, including his mother, father, and brother.
His father, Anzor, sought the family’s asylum in fleeing torture in Kyrgyzstan close to two decades ago, and the defense lawyers argued that the records would illustrate Tsarnaev’s family history.
They also said that Tamerlan’s immigration records could yield more evidence about his encounters with federal authorities, specifically after his visits to Dagestan that caught the attention of Russian officials.
The lawyers said they plan to argue that the unknowns about Tsarnaev’s “formative environment and relative moral culpability” and the possible “psychological domination” by his brother would support their case against the death penalty.
Attorneys for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev say that what prosecutors have called a damaging statement he made during a prison visit with his sister was actually just a humorous remark.
The attorneys say that Tsarnaev has not made any statements “concerning the substance of the charges against him during visits with his sisters.”
The attorneys called prosecutors’ description of Tsarnaev’s statement as “detrimental” to his case a “red herring.”
“Apparently, if Mr. Tsarnaev appears to be lighthearted in interactions with his sisters, this will be spun into an argument that he should be executed because he lacks remorse and is insufficiently serious about his predicament or his actions. On the other hand, if Mr. Tsarnaev appears impassive or subdued, those observations also likely will be characterized as evidence that Mr. Tsarnaev is cold-hearted and more deserving of the death penalty, defense attorneys said in a filing today in US District Court in Boston.
Defense attorneys are battling with prosecutors over special restrictions that have been placed on Tsarnaev in the federal prison facility at Devens where he is being held. Prosecutors say the restrictions are necessary due to security concerns, while defense attorneys say they are interfering with their preparations for their case. One restriction the defense wants lifted is monitoring of family visits by an FBI agent.
In a recent filing, prosecutors said that an agent, present at a meeting between Tsarnaev and his sister, along with an investigator from the defense, overheard him making a statement “to his detriment.” What Tsarnaev allegedly said has not been disclosed by the prosecution or defense.
The defense said in its filing today that “on one occasion, as the [special restrictions] were being explained to one of his sisters [by the investigator], in an effort to put her at ease, Mr. Tsarnaev made a comment that might be characterized as jocular or gently mocking toward the purported security concerns that underlie the [restrictions] on repeating his statements to others.”
“The government’s insistence on the presence of an agent who is working directly with the prosecution trial team suggests that the government is intent on securing yet another litigation advantage in a case in which its resources — both legal and financial — already dwarf those of the defense,” the defense said.
Tsarnaev, 20, faces a host of federal charges in the April 15 terror bombings near the Marathon finish line that killed three people and wounded 260 others. Prosecutors are seeking to impose the death penalty, if he is convicted. He also faces state charges in the slaying of an MIT police officer several days after the bombings.
Tsarnaev’s brother, Tamerlan, 26, allegedly joined in the bombings. He was killed in a confrontation with police in Watertown as the two tried to flee the area after the MIT officer’s killing. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured later the same day hiding in a boat stored in a Watertown back yard.
Authorities say Tsarnaev had been inspired by Al Qaeda publications and had allegedly scrawled in a note on the boat that he had acted because “the US government is killing our innocent civilans. … We Muslims are one body; you hurt one, you hurt us all.”
A recent legal filing has given further credence to the view that accused Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may not be willing to accept a plea bargain.
Attorney General Eric Holder’s January 30th announcement authorizing Federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty for Tsarnaev (if convicted), does not appear to have alarmed attorney’s for the accused in any way: in fact, they now appear wholly intent on taking the case to trial.This is in stark contrast to virtually all of death penalty lawyer Judy Clarke’s previous cases, none of which have ever proceeded to the trial stage. For example, Jared Lee Loughner, James Holmes and bomber Ted Kaczynski all accepted plea deals in their efforts to avoid a trial and face possible execution.Plea bargain off the tableThe filing itself revealed several troubling aspects relating to discovery issues, including outstanding requests and the government reneging on it’s promise to provide copies of evidence solicited during the time agreed.
The most alarming issue arose from the defense’ assertion that they are still waiting to review over 2000 individual pieces of physical evidence that are currently being withheld by the FBI. The reason? The evidence is reportedly ‘still under analysis’. This is rather ironic considering the government’s long held contention over the ‘mountain of evidence’ it claims to possess against Tsarnaev: parts of which it now seems they have failed to fully investigate at all.
Tellingly, the government made no effort to deny this.
Under such circumstances it becomes obvious why a plea agreement will not be forthcoming. No defense attorney worth their salt would advise their client to push for a deal without having first had the opportunity to review the evidence in it’s entirety.
Neither would they ever advise such action if the investigation itself has proven to be lacking. The defense statement regarding the undisclosed evidence strongly suggests that this could indeed be the case.Dates pertinent to trial proceedingsThe filing also outlined a number of key dates preferable to the defense for future trial proceedings. Attorney’s for Tsarnaev requested:
- That a trial begin no earlier than September 2015
- Motions challenging the death penalty be filed by November 2014
- Change of venue motions filed by January 2015
- Requests concerning jury selection and voir dire to be made by June 2015Predictably, the prosecution deemed these dates unfavourable and instead expressed a preference for earlier assignations.Tsarnaev standing tall in the face of adversity?It must be noted that at this stage of the proceedings one would expect attorney’s for the accused to give the impression that they are willing to engage in a full trial. However, every case is different and must be judged accordingly. Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty and has been battling a socio/political lynch mob clearly intent on forcing him into a plea agreement ever since. The coercive prosecutorial tactics used to invoke such a strategy are now well documented, of which the threat of execution is merely the latest in a long and unsavoury line.
Yet throughout the process Tsarnaev’s lawyers have fought back and it is now becoming increasingly obvious why: the push for a plea deal is not considered paramount, nor an integral part of a blue print to save his life. The evidence that the government once insisted was ‘air tight’ no longer appears worthy of such a supreme claim - after all they are still investigating it.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev evidently wants a trial. In the interests of justice for all, who could really blame him?