Judge denies Tsarnaev bid to suppress evidence

AP News
Posted: Oct 17, 2014 6:20 PM

BOSTON (AP) — A federal judge on Friday rejected a request by lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to throw out evidence collected during searches of his apartment, dorm room and laptop computer.

Judge George O'Toole Jr. also denied a request to dismiss the indictment against Tsarnaev over defense concerns about an underrepresentation of African-Americans and people over the age of 70 on federal juries.

Tsarnaev, 21, is accused of carrying out the April 2013 bombing, which killed three people and injured 260.

Tsarnaev's lawyers argued that the warrants authorizing searches of his family's apartment in Cambridge and his dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth weren't specific enough and that some items were improperly seized. They also challenged the search of Tsarnaev's Yahoo email accounts and said authorities improperly used the fruits of those searches to later search his Gmail accounts.

Prosecutors say Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, planted twin pressure-cooker bombs near the marathon's finish line. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police three days after the bombings while Dzhokhar was captured.

Tsarnaev's lawyers argued that agents who searched his email accounts and laptop engaged in "general rummaging," which is prohibited by the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.

O'Toole rejected that argument.

"This is fishing," O'Toole wrote. "The defendant has failed to present any specific facts to support a showing that 'general rummaging' occurred."

In their motion to dismiss the indictment, Tsarnaev's lawyers said there are problems in the way grand juries are selected in Boston, including the automatic excusing of jurors over 70 years old upon request.

But the judge rejected those arguments as well, finding that they had not shown a violation to the constitutional right to have a jury chosen from a "fair cross-section" of the community.

Both prosecutors and the defense declined to comment on the judge's rulings.

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and could face the death penalty if convicted. His trial is scheduled to begin in January.