U.S.

Where Tsarnaev Stands: Hospital Statements, Death Penalty

Lawyers for the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing want to strike statements their client made in the hospital and throw out the death penalty.

Where Tsarnaev Stands: Hospital Statements, Death Penalty
WBZ-TV

Lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, say they want any and all statements he made to FBI agents in his Boston hospital room excluded from trial.

"He was questioned without being told his rights while being treated for a critical gunshot wound. Now the lawyers for Boston Marathon suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev want all of those statements thrown out." (Via CNN)

According to court documents filed Wednesday, Tsarnaev repeatedly asked for a lawyer while recovering from severe injuries with the help of strong medication. His attorneys say FBI agents turned them away when they arrived at the hospital to defend him.

The Boston Globe reports FBI agents also told Tsarnaev his brother, Tamerlan, was still alive — even though at that time, he had already been shot dead during a faceoff with police.

And Politico says the defense claims one agent told one of the attorneys Dzhokhar​ Tsarnaev wasn't in custody at the time.

The defense claims the FBI violated Tsarnaev's constitutional rights by not providing him with legal counsel, and it wants any statements he made before he had access to a lawyer permanently thrown out.

His lawyers said in their 21-page filing"The questioning continued for hours, in what was obviously an effort to extract as much incriminating information as possible. ... Despite Mr. Tsarnaev's entreaties to be left alone, allowed to rest, and provided with a lawyer, the agents persisted in questioning him throughout the night and into the [next] morning."

But that's not all Tsarnaev's attorneys are asking for.

"They want the death penalty off the table, arguing it is unconstitutional citing last week's botched execution in Oklahoma." (Via Fox News)

According to USA Today, the defense asked a federal judge to stop prosecutors from pushing for the death penalty simply because the bombing targeted a crowded event. 

On top of that, Tsarnaev's lawyers want the judge to declare the death penalty itself unconstitutional because of recently botched executions such as the ones in Oklahoma and Ohio. (Via RT)

But will the defense get what it wants?

One legal expert told the Los Angeles Times the judge will have to decide if there were threats to public safety at the time that warranted the multiple hours of questioning. "The judge will have to address whether 'the threat was more significant than the harm that comes to you from the failure to give you the [Miranda] warning.'"

But the uncle of two survivors of the horrific 2013 bombing says he wants every detail of the investigation to be presented in court. (Via The Boston Globe)

"We as a public have a right to protection. They have to get the questions answered. I would prefer they use everything they possibly can, including his own words." ​(Via WBZ-TV)

As for the constitutional challenge to the death penalty, a Harvard Law School professor and constitutional lawyer told the Boston Herald he doesn't think it's a good idea.

"You have a man who, according to the evidence, planned to murder multiple civilians. ... This is a bad case to test this on. It would actually set back any movement to repeal the death penalty because of Americans' feelings about terrorism."

Tsarnaev's trial is scheduled to begin in November.