Boston Marathon bomb suspect's legal team makes another effort to delay trial

Lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said they need time to analyze a computer hard drive that belonged to Ibragim Todashev, a friend shot and killed by an FBI agent.

By Frances Burns
A wanted poster released by the FBI after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing identified Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a suspect. UPI
A wanted poster released by the FBI after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing identified Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a suspect. UPI | License Photo

BOSTON, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Starting the trial of Boston Marathon bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Jan. 5 would help the prosecution, defense lawyers said Monday.

Tsarnaev's defense team responded to the prosecution's demand that U.S. District Judge George O'Toole Jr. start the trial Jan. 5. The defense requested Dec. 23 that O'Toole postpone the trial until the fall of 2015.


"While the government may be loath to admit it, both sides would obviously benefit from a continuance, which also would serve the broader interests of justice," the defense said in a response filed with the court. "Affording the parties additional time to prepare their respective presentations in an organized and orderly fashion would ... streamline a complex and lengthy trial."

Tsarnaev, who could receive a death sentence if he is convicted, allegedly set off two backpack bombs with his older brother, Tamerlan, near the finish line of the Marathon on April 15, 2013. Three people, including a child, were killed and scores of others injured, including some who lost limbs.

The brothers allegedly killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer a few days later. Tamerlan was killed in a confrontation with police.


O'Toole has rejected defense motions to move the trial out of Boston. The judge has said he expects a long trial with jury selection alone expected to last weeks or months.

The defense lawyers also said Tsarnaev will be denied a fair trial if O'Toole keeps to the current schedule. They charged that prosecutors delayed turning over evidence to the defense.

Tsarnaev, 21, was a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth when he was arrested. Several friends have been convicted of trying to help him by destroying evidence or lying to the FBI.

In their court filing, defense lawyers also said that they only recently received a copy of a computer hard drive belonging to Ibragim Todashev, a friend of the brothers who was shot and killed by an FBI agent during an interview in his Florida home.

Todashev had allegedly confessed to participating in a 2011 triple homicide with Tamerlan Tsarnaev just before he was shot. But the defense said that is not the reason for studying the hard drive.

"The contents of Todashev's computer, which will take time to analyze, likely will help to fill important gaps in the story about 'radicalization' of the Tsarnaev brothers," the lawyers said in a footnote.


In their original response to the request for a continuance, prosecutors in the office of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz blamed the defense for the volume of material Tsarnaev's lawyers must examine.

"Tsarnaev continues to complain about the volume of case-related information provided by the government even as he demands more and more of it," prosecutors said in a Christmas Eve filing. "Tsarnaev should not be heard to complain about the receipt of information that he himself has requested and that the government had no legal obligation to provide earlier (or at all)."

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