Accused Boston bomber's lawyers want more time to argue against execution

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 27, 2013 3:34 PM

BOSTON (Reuters) - Lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Friday asked for more time to make their case that the 20-year-old ethnic Chechen should be spared the possibility of execution if convicted of the April attack.

Tsarnaev has been charged with killing three people and injuring 264 with homemade pressure-cooker bombs that he and his older brother, Tamerlan, placed amid a crowd of thousands of spectators, volunteers and athletes at the race's finish line.

Federal prosecutors in Boston on Monday said they would determine by the end of October whether to recommend to Justice Department officials in Washington to seek the death penalty if Tsarnaev is convicted. Justice Department officials would then make a final decision of whether to seek execution by late January.

Tsarnaev's attorneys argued that schedule would not leave them enough time to review the evidence and prepare an argument against seeking the death penalty.

"This arbitrary date falls less than two months after the government's production of multiple terabytes of discovery," defense attorney William Fick wrote in a filing in U.S. District Court in Boston.

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The three people who died in the April 15 bombing were 29-year-old restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, graduate student Lingzi Lu, 23, and 8-year-old Martin Richard.

Three days after the bombing, Dzhokhar and his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan shot dead MIT university police officer Sean Collier, prosecutors contend. They went on to hijack a car and engage in an overnight gunbattle with police in the suburb of Watertown, Massachusetts. The gunbattle ended when Dzhohkhar fled in the stolen car, running over his brother and contributing to his death, according to court papers.

A daylong lockdown of most of the Boston area followed as police searched for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was found hiding in a boat in the backyard of a home.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; editing by Andrew Hay)