U.S. judge blocks 'betrayal' claim in Boston bomber case

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U.S. judge blocks 'betrayal' claim in Boston bomber case
BOSTON - APRIL 15: Police walk through the evacuated scene at Exeter and Boylston Streets after two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. This image was taken at 3:05:12 p.m. (Aaron Tang for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 7: People attend the Boston Marathon memorial exhibition, 'Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial,' at the Boston Public Library April 7, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. Three spectators were killed and more than two hundred sixty injured when two bombs exploded on Marathon Monday, which prompted a massive manhunt for suspects later identified as Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, two brothers from Chechnya, living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
LOWELL, MA - NOVEMBER 9: Kevin Corcoran leans over to kiss his wife, Celeste, during a Tsongas Arena hockey game and an event called Riverhawks Strong to honor victims and first responders of the Boston Marathon bombing. Celeste, who lost both her legs in the attack, was tired after being on her legs more than 12 hours. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - FEBRUARY 12: Boston Marathon bombing survivor Marc Fucarile attended a hearing for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in US District Court, on Wednesday Feb. 12, 2014, where the judge set trial for Nov. 3. Fucarile declined to speak to media outside the courthouse. (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
WATERTOWN, MA - APRIL 7: The home on Franklin Street where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found hiding in a boat in the backyard is seen April 7, 2014 in Watertown, Massachusetts. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, along with his deceased brother Tamerlan, are accused of setting off two bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon finish line that killed three spectators and injured over two hundred and sixty. Following a shootout with police just a few blocks from this home, Tamerlan was run over by his brother while fleeing, prompting a day long manhunt through the streets of Watertown. Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
CAMBRIDGE, MA - APRIL 7: A stone memorial honors Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier April 7, 2014 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Collier was killed on the night of April 18, 2013, as he sat in his patrol car in the plaza at the intersection of Vassar and Main Streets, when two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings attempted to steal his weapon. The two men were later identified as Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
LOWELL, MA - NOVEMBER 9: Celeste Corcoran waves to a standing ovation at Tsongas Arena during an event called Riverhawks Strong to honor victims and first responders of the Boston Marathon bombing. Celeste, who lost both her legs in the attack, holds onto her husband, Kevin, as daughter Sydney, rear, looks on. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: Emergency personnel respond to the scene at Exeter and Boylston Streets after two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. This image was taken at 2:57:25 p.m. (Aaron Tang for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: Emergency personnel respond to the scene at Exeter and Boylston Streets after two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. This image was taken at 2:52:36 p.m. (Aaron Tang for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: Emergency personnel respond to the scene at Exeter and Boylston Streets after two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. This image was taken at 2:58:34 p.m. (Aaron Tang for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: Emergency personnel respond to the scene at Exeter and Boylston Streets after two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. This image was taken at 2:52:19 p.m. (Aaron Tang for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: Emergency personnel respond to the scene at Exeter and Boylston Streets after two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. This image was taken at 2:52:07 p.m. (Aaron Tang for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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By Scott Malone

(Reuters) - A judge told prosecutors on Wednesday that they may not mention that the accused Boston Marathon bomber is a naturalized citizen as a factor in determining whether he should be executed if convicted of the deadly attack.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is the surviving member of a pair of ethnic Chechen brothers who immigrated to the United States about a decade ago whom federal prosecutors contend killed three people and injured more than 260 in the largest mass-casualty attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001. Tsarnaev's 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, died after a gunbattle with police three days after the April 15, 2013 bombing.

U.S. District Judge George O'Toole blocked a bid by prosecutors to cite the fact that Tsarnaev took an oath of loyalty to the United States when he became a citizen as an aggravating factor in deciding on the death penalty if he is convicted.

The judge noted that a native-born citizen could not face the same claim because they do not take such an oath.

"It's unduly prejudicial and I will strike," O'Toole said.

O'Toole also denied a request by lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, to allow them to meet jointly with their client and his sisters without having federal agents present.

Defense attorneys had argued that understanding accused Tsarnaev's relations with his family would be important to making a case that he does not deserve execution if convicted, saying the presence of a federal officers prevented normal conversations.

O'Toole instead approved a proposal by prosecutors to have a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent from outside Boston, who is not directly involved in the investigation to monitor the meetings at the prison west of Boston where Tsarnaev is being held.

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His trial scheduled to begin in November. Defense attorneys also face a Wednesday deadline to make their case to move the trial outside of Boston.

U.S. laws generally require a person accused of a crime to stand trial in the district where it was committed. Defendants can seek to have proceedings moved to another location where potential jurors may have been less influenced by pretrial publicity. Another judge at U.S. District Court in Boston last month rejected a bid to move out of state the upcoming trials of three friends of Tsarnaev accused of interfering with the investigation by taking a laptop and backpack from his dormitory room.

The case is USA v. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts No. 13-10200

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Boston Marathon bombings -- impact, aftermath, suspects and victims
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U.S. judge blocks 'betrayal' claim in Boston bomber case
BOSTON - APRIL 15: Police officers with their guns drawn hear the second explosion down the street. The first explosion knocked down 78-year-old US marathon runner Bill Iffrig at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Suspects wanted for questioning in relation to the Boston Marathon bombing April 15, later identified as Dzhokhar (L) and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, are seen in handout photo released through the FBI website, April 18, 2013. REUTERS/FBI/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
BOSTON - APRIL 15: Two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: (EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS IMAGE CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT) Destruction and injured people at the site of the one of the explosions that went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon. Barricades hindered the EMS from getting to the injured. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, suspect #2 in the Boston Marathon explosion is pictured in this undated FBI handout photo. Police on April 19, 2013 killed one suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing during a shootout and mounted a house-to-house search for a second man in the suburb of Watertown, Massachusetts. REUTERS/FBI/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER CRIME LAW TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
ALLSTON, MA - APRIL 14: Tamerlan Tsarnaev during his practice at the Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts on April 14, 2009 near Boston, Massachusetts. Three spectators were killed and more than two hundred sixty injured when two bombs exploded on Marathon Monday, which prompted a massive manhunt for suspects later identified as Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, two brothers from Chechnya, living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed during the shootout, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found later the same day hiding in a boat nearby. (Photo by Thomas Brown/Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: A second explosion goes off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: A man is loaded into an ambulance after he was injured by one of two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon near Copley Square on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
A man identified by authorities as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, is seen in this undated still image taken from surveillance video made available by the Boston Regional Intelligence Center. REUTERS/BRIC/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Runner John Ounao crying when he finds friends after several explosions rocked the finish of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 15, 2013. At least two people were killed and 22 wounded when two explosions struck near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, sparking scenes of panic, police said. The streets were littered with debris and blood and paramedics raced off with stretchers as police locked down the area, witness said. TV footage showed an explosion sending up a white plume of smoke along the sidelines of the race. AFP PHOTO/John MOTTERN (Photo credit should read JOHN MOTTERN/AFP/Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: Two officials run away from the first explosion, right, on Boylston Street at the 177th Boston Marathon, April 15, 2013. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
First responders load injured people into an ambulance where two explosions occurred along the final stretch of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Monday, April 15, 2013. Two powerful explosions rocked the finish line area of the Boston Marathon near Copley Square and police said many people were injured. Photographer: Kelvin Ma/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Runners and spectators flee from the scene where two explosions occurred along the final stretch of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Monday, April 15, 2013. Two powerful explosions rocked the finish line area of the Boston Marathon near Copley Square and police said many people were injured. Photographer: Kelvin Ma/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: A runner reacts near Kenmore Square after two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: Boston Police struggle to remove barricades to reach victims of the first explosion that went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon,. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: A person who was injured in the first explosion is wheeled across the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
A man looks out of his window in Cambridge, Massachusetts April 19, 2013. Police killed one suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, Tamerlan Tsarneav, in a shootout and mounted house-to-house searches for the second man, his brother Dzhokar Tsarnaev, on Friday, with much of the city under virtual lockdown after a bloody night of shooting and explosions in the streets. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW CIVIL UNREST)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: (EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS IMAGE CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT) A person who was injured in an explosion near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon is taken away from the scene on a stretcher. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: A runner sits near Kenmore Square after two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
Trash is strewn on the street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon where several explosions rocked the event April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. At least two people were killed and 22 wounded when two explosions struck near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, sparking scenes of panic, police said. The streets were littered with debris and blood and paramedics raced off with stretchers as police locked down the area, witness said. TV footage showed an explosion sending up a white plume of smoke along the sidelines of the race. AFP PHOTO/John MOTTERN (Photo credit should read JOHN MOTTERN/AFP/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: A swat team arrives at the corner of Stuart Street and Dartmouth Street after two explosive devices detonated at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 16: Newspapers are on sale at a stand on Newbury Street on April 16, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Security is especially tight in the city of Boston after two explosions went off near the finish of the Marathon, killing three people and injuring at least 141 others. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 02: Jonny Gomes #5 of the Boston Red Sox lays the World Series trophy and the 'Boston Strong 617' jersey onto the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street during the World Series victory parade on November 2, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
BOSTON - MARCH 15: A bagpiper wears a Boston Strong jersey during the St. Patrick's Day Parade in the South Boston neighborhood on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
SWAT teams enter a suburban neighborhood to search an apartment for the remaining suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings in Watertown, Massachusetts April 19, 2013. Two Boston bomb suspects were named as brothers, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, a U.S. national security official said on Friday. The official said the older brother died in a shootout with police and the younger one was being sought in a house-to-house search for in the Boston suburb of Watertown. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW)
A member of the SWAT team trains a gun on an apartment building during a search for the remaining suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings in Watertown, Massachusetts April 19, 2013. Two Boston bomb suspects were named as brothers, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, a U.S. national security official said on Friday. The official said the older brother died in a shootout with police and the younger one was being sought in a house-to-house search for in the Boston suburb of Watertown. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW)
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(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Grant McCool)

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