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Marathon suspect: Statements should be thrown out

By Denise Lavoie

BOSTON (AP) - Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev argued Wednesday that statements he made to authorities after he was arrested should be thrown out because he was questioned for 36 hours in a hospital room while suffering from gunshot wounds and without being told his rights.

The lawyers said in a flurry of pretrial court filings that federal agents began questioning Tsarnaev about 20 hours after he arrived at the hospital in critical condition and his statements can't be considered voluntary.

Federal investigators questioned him days after last year's deadly bombing without formally telling him of his right to a lawyer under a public safety exception allowed when there's concern about an ongoing threat. But defense attorneys said the questioning continued "despite the fact that he quickly allayed concerns about any continuing threat to public safety, repeatedly asked for a lawyer, and begged to rest." They said his treatment included painkillers that impaired his judgment and increased his susceptibility to pressure.

Tsarnaev was shot and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed during a gunbattle with police on April 19, 2013, four days after the marathon bombing. His lawyers said he had gunshot wounds to his head, face, throat, jaw, left hand and legs.

The lawyers said his rights also were violated when his appearance in court was delayed to complete the interrogation, during which he told authorities about how the bombs were built and about the brothers' activities before and after the bombing.

"Agents made clear by word and deed that they would not allow him to see a lawyer until they had finished questioning him," his defense team's filing said.

Also on Wednesday, the defense asked the judge to declare the federal death penalty unconstitutional, citing recent bungled executions and arguing there's mounting evidence innocent people have been executed.

Tsarnaev's lawyers said the U.S. Constitution's protection against cruel and unusual punishment prohibits the application of the death penalty because it's not authorized under Massachusetts law. They cited "worldwide revulsion over the recurring spectacle of botched executions," including one that left an Ohio inmate snorting and gasping during the 26 minutes it took him to die in January and another that left an Oklahoma inmate straining to lift his head off a pillow after supposedly being rendered unconscious last month.

The lawyers also asked the judge to bar federal prosecutors from arguing that targeting the crowded athletic event last year is a factor a jury should consider when weighing his possible punishment if he's convicted.

The lawyers said the decision to bomb the marathon shouldn't be an "aggravating factor" in determining whether he should receive the death penalty because prosecutors also argue he committed the offense after substantial planning to cause death and commit an act of terrorism.

"Stated differently, the allegation that Tsarnaev targeted the marathon is simply a more specific statement of the substantial planning allegation," Tsarnaev's lawyers wrote in a court filing.

Federal law requires the jury to reach its sentencing decision by weighing each aggravating factor cited by prosecutors against mitigating factors cited by the defense. Tsarnaev's lawyers said having duplicative aggravating factors "can have no other effect than to introduce arbitrariness and unfairness into the jury's sentencing deliberations."

Federal prosecutors are expected to respond in their own filings.

Last week, the defense asked a judge to eliminate another aggravating factor cited by prosecutors: Tsarnaev's alleged betrayal of the United States. Tsarnaev's lawyers said prosecutors, by citing his status as a newly naturalized U.S. citizen, are implying he's "more deserving of the death penalty" than a native-born person who commits the same crime.

Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to several federal charges. Prosecutors allege he and his brother, 26, planted two pressure cooker bombs near the marathon's finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 260.

Tsarnaev's lawyers acknowledge that a federal appeals court rejected a challenge to the federal death penalty in another Massachusetts case in 2007. But they asked the judge to eliminate the death penalty as a possible punishment if they can show prosecutors gave erroneous instructions to the grand jury that indicted him.

Join the discussion

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Lewis & Lewis May 08 2014 at 10:08 AM

So throw them out so what. Only thing they should be asking him is to make a last statement!
The sucker goose is cooked.
Can I please get a soda pop and popcorn please.

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Moe May 08 2014 at 9:55 AM

they should have killed him r while he was in the boat.

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DEBBIE May 08 2014 at 9:55 AM


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1 reply
Diane DEBBIE May 08 2014 at 10:09 AM

I agree

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ibhocken May 08 2014 at 9:49 AM

Let him spend the rest of his life in prison being the wife of Thunder Lipps and passed around to all the inmates every day.

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debnaert May 08 2014 at 9:49 AM

This pot head made a choice to KILL innocent people..... he can DROP DEAD!

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bryanmerrittper2 May 08 2014 at 9:49 AM

When a person commits an act of domestic terrorist murder and mayhem against our decent citizens he should lose all his rights including the right to council at the taxpayers expense. Let his family his terrorist mother or his local terrorist cell pay for his defense Why should the people his victim's and you and I pay for the defense of his dark deeds?

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mark063060 May 08 2014 at 9:47 AM

according to the PATRIOT ACT you do not have the right to remain silent nor do yo have the right to an attorney.

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1 reply
rgkarasiewicz mark063060 May 08 2014 at 9:54 AM

The Patriot Act is meaningless as it's unconstitutional.

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rgkarasiewicz May 08 2014 at 9:47 AM

That man was framed.

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2 replies
fentex5 rgkarasiewicz May 08 2014 at 9:57 AM

By whom? The Taliban? Al Queda? Your mama?

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1 reply
rgkarasiewicz fentex5 May 08 2014 at 10:02 AM

No, by the same people who were hunting him down like a rabid dog, and then subsequently shot him several times in cold blood.

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judylbo rgkarasiewicz May 08 2014 at 10:22 AM

If what you say is true, who committed the bombing? President Obama? Hillary Clinton to get our minds off Benghazi? Who really did it? Or are you one of those conspiracists who think it was all a big hoax and never happened at all? So, what really did happen if "that man was framed"?

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1 reply
rgkarasiewicz judylbo May 08 2014 at 10:36 AM

There was more than sufficient evidence to indict Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's brother Tamerlan as planting the bombs, but there was nothing to indicate that Dzhokhar was anywhere near the area at the time of the bombing. All that the authorities actually have are fuzzy and blurry photos supposedly of Dzhokhar at the scene, but would you convict someone based on that?

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snhhert May 08 2014 at 9:47 AM

How can lawyers sleep at night. What a profession. Defending scum of the earth.
If the world is so over populated can we please kill all the lawyers first so there's room for the rest of us?
Prison for the rat boy.

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1 reply
rgkarasiewicz snhhert May 08 2014 at 9:56 AM

I didn't know that the man was convicted. What happened to the trial?

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1 reply
moebrit rgkarasiewicz May 08 2014 at 11:45 AM

Been following your statements, are you for real? Only an idiot would react the way you have!
Go back and revisit the coverage from the actual night and the scene in the boat where he was hiding. Who shot this innocent young man, why was he hiding if not guilty?

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Denny & Patti May 08 2014 at 9:46 AM

Lawyers; Nothing but Talking heads! Think what this country could accomplish with the "MILLION" spent on guilty as hell, beyond any dought, caught red handed ,not even a chance they didn`t do it, murderers! But as in so many cases before this one and even after, our currupt Goverment spends tax payers money to put on this show! The rest of the world is laughing out loud. Especially the lawyers billing tax papers $350 an hour.

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