U.S. District Judge George A. O'Toole also said he believes Tsarnaev should be able to have visits with his family without being monitored by an FBI agent. But he said he would not make a final decision for two weeks to determine if the U.S. Bureau of Prisons objects.
Tsarnaev, 20, allegedly carried out the bombing with his older brother, Tamerlan, 26, placing two bombs near the finish line of the Marathon on April 15, 2013. Tamerlan was killed four days later in a confrontation with police.
O'Toole said that allowing Tsarnaev to see autopsy photos would not violate victims' privacy. The bombing, at a time when a large crowd was at the finish line, also wounded scores of people.
Lawyers for Tsarnaev said they hope to prove that he was dominated by his older brother and possibly feared for his own life. They said allowing unmonitored visits would allow them to get the Tsarnaev family "story."
The defense has also asked for more information on a triple killing in Waltham in 2011. O'Toole is considering a request for a statement made by a friend of Tamerlan, Ibragim Todashev, who is said to have told investigators he and Tamerlan carried out the killings.
Lawyer David Bruck said the younger brother might have known Tamerlan "slit the necks" of three people.
“This case is very much a story about a family and the relationships between them,” Bruck said.
Tsarnaev, who could face the death penalty if he is convicted, was not at the hearing a day after the first anniversary of the bombing. O'Toole scheduled another hearing June 18.
At the time of the bombing, Tsarnaev was a student at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. He was a naturalized U.S. citizen and had been a star wrestler at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School.