clear
Sunday May 3rd, 2015 4:59AM

Boston Marathon suspect may pin blame on brother

By The Associated Press
BOSTON - Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's lawyers may try to save him from the death penalty in the Boston Marathon bombing by arguing he fell under the murderous influence of his older brother, legal experts say.

The outlines of a possible defense came into focus this week when it was learned that Tsarnaev's attorneys are trying to get access to investigative records implicating the now-dead brother in a grisly triple slaying committed in 2011.

In court papers Monday, federal prosecutors acknowledged publicly for the first time that a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev told investigators that Tamerlan participated in the unsolved killings of three men who were found in a Waltham apartment with their throats slit, marijuana sprinkled over their bodies.

The younger Tsarnaev's lawyers argued in court papers that any evidence of Tamerlan's involvement is "mitigating information" that is critical as they prepare Dzhokhar's defense. They asked a judge to force prosecutors to turn over the records.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, faces 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction, in the twin bombings April 15 that killed three people and injured more than 260. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died in a gunbattle with police days later.

The government is still deciding whether to pursue the death penalty for the attack, which investigators say was retaliation for the U.S. wars in Muslim lands.

Miriam Conrad, Tsarnaev's public defender, had no comment.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said the defense may be trying to show that the older brother was the guiding force.

"If I was a defense attorney and was seeking perhaps to draw attention to the influence the older brother had in planning the bombing, I would use his involvement in other crimes to show that he was likely the main perpetrator in the Boston bombing," Dieter said.

"I would take the position that my client, the younger brother, was strongly influenced by his older brother, and even if he is culpable, the death penalty is too extreme in this case."

Similarly, Aitan D. Goelman, who was part of the legal team that prosecuted Oklahoma City bombing figures Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, said the defense may be looking to minimize the younger brother's role in the bombing.

"I think the mostly likely reason is that if they are arguing some kind of mitigation theory that the older brother was a monster and the younger brother was under his sway or intimidated or dominated by him," he said.

Investigators have given no motive for the 2011 slayings. One victim was a boxer and friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's.

Federal prosecutors said in court papers that Ibragim Todashev, another friend of Tamerlan's, told authorities that Tamerlan took part in the killings. Todashev was shot to death in Florida in May by authorities while being questioned.

Prosecutors argued that turning over the records would damage the investigation into the killings.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Dust Explosion at Pilgrims Pride
A dust explosion caused significant damage at Pilgrim's Pride facility Saturday evening
10:51PM ( 6 hours ago )
Car crashes into Suwanee apartment complex
Residents from five units of a Suwanee apartment complex are being moved temporarily after a car crashed into their building.
9:17PM ( 7 hours ago )
VIDEO: Botanical Garden welcomes first visitors
The new Atlanta Botanical Garden in Gainesville welcomed its first visitors Saturday on 168 acres of land just north of town on U.S. Highway 129.
By Jerry Gunn
2:28PM ( 14 hours ago )
Deal to sign transportation funding bill on Monday
Governor Nathan Deal will sign HB 170, the Transportation Funding Act of 2015, at a ceremony at the State Capitol on Monday.
1:00PM ( 15 hours ago )
AAA monthly fuel report: drivers pay highest gas prices of the year
While prices remain below $3 per gallon across most of the country, American drivers paid the highest gas prices of the year in the month of April.
By AccessWDUN staff
12:00PM ( 16 hours ago )