BOSTON (Reuters) - A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request by lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for evidence in the ongoing investigation of a 2011 Massachusetts triple murder, saying the information wouldn't help their case.
Tsarnaev's lawyers had asked the judge to force prosecutors to hand over information about the killings, which may have involved Tsarnaev's older brother Tamerlan and which they argued could help show Tamerlan was a bad influence.
"After review, it is my judgment that, contrary to the defense speculation, the report does not materially advance that theory," U.S. District Judge George O'Toole said in his decision. He said the information could also undermine the ongoing investigation.
Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to federal charges he and his brother placed bombs at the finish line of the world-renowned race on April 15, 2013, killing three people and injuring more than 260. His trial is due to begin in January and he could face the death penalty if convicted.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who prosecutors argue was the ringleader in the worst attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001, was killed days after the bombing in a shootout with police.
Ibragim Todashev, an acquaintance of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's, told investigators in May 2013 that Tsarnaev had taken part in a triple murder in Waltham, in which three men were stabbed to death, according to federal prosecutors. Todashev provided a confession and was later shot dead by law-enforcement agents who said he lunged at them, according to the FBI.
Prosecutors said at a hearing earlier this month they have already shared the substance of Todashev's confession with Tsarnaev's defense team, and were not privvy to the details of the local police investigation into the Waltham killings.
(Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Bernard Orr)