Prosecutors ask if Tsarnaev defense will raise mental state

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is pictured in this undated FBI handout photo.  Credit: Reuters
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is pictured in this undated FBI handout photo.
Credit: Reuters

The team prosecuting accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked defense attorneys on Friday to notify them by next month if they plan to make the 20-year-old defendant’s mental abilities an issue at trial.

In a filing in U.S. District Court in Boston, prosecutors asked a judge to require the defense to notify them by May 7 if they plan “to introduce expert evidence relating to a mental disease or defect or any other mental condition of the defendant which bears on either the issue of guilt or the issue of punishment.”

Attorneys for Tsarnaev, who faces the threat of death if convicted of the April 2013 attack that killed three people and injured 264, could argue that the defendant is not wholly responsible for his actions or not deserving of execution, legal experts said.

“There aren’t a lot of directions you can go as a defense attorney,” said Walter Price, a former federal prosecutor. “One of them is always mental and if you think you have the potential to argue that the defendant had diminished mental capacity or insanity, you have to prove it.”

Federal court rules require defense attorneys to notify prosecutors of their plans to mount such a defense to give the prosecution time to conduct its own expert review, legal experts said.

Tsarnaev was the younger of a pair of ethnic Chechen brothers who had lived in the Boston area for about a decade who federal officials contend left a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs at the race’s finish line on April 15, 2013.

Three days after the attack, prosecutors contend, the pair killed a university police officer in an unsuccessful effort to steal his gun as they tried to flee the city. That night older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died in a gunbattle with police.

The surviving brother was captured on April 19 and is being held in a prison west of Boston, awaiting a trial scheduled to begin in November.

A defense attorney for Tsarnaev did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

But another former prosecutor, attorney Thomas Peisch, said it was highly likely that Tsarnaev’s defense team would argue during the trial that mental disabilities reduced his blame in the bombings.

“It’s almost unthinkable that the defense won’t try to interject diminished capacity at some point,” Peisch, a partner at Conn Kavanaugh, said.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Rock legend Neil Young files for divorce after…

The legendary Canadian rocker Neil Young has filed for divorce from his wife of 36 years.

Local

FDNY debuts new fire simulator for blazes at…

The New York City Fire Department christened its newest, state-of-the-art, custom-built simulator at its training academy on Randall's Island Tuesday.

Local

Brewer celebrates Women's Equality Day with voter pledge

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer celebrated Women’s Equality Day Tuesday by pledging to register at least five women voters before the Oct. 10 deadline. Brewer…

Local

NYPD looking for lewd D train rider

The NYPD is enlisting the public’s help to find a man they say performed a lewd act on the D train Saturday evening. The incident…

Television

Adrien Brody shows off his lock picking in…

Adrien Brody talks about his role in the History channel's new "Houdini" miniseries.

Movies

Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood' is a…

Dakota Fanning plays Errol Flynn's (Kevin Kline) teenage gal pal in "The Last of Robin Hood," which takes a scandal and makes it dully empathetic.

Movies

Review: The uneven 'Life of Crime' mostly gets…

Elmore Leonard's "The Switch" becomes the new indie crime dramedy "Life of Crime," with Jennifer Aniston as a kidnapped woman whose husband won't pay up.

Movies

Review: Pierce Brosnan gets a cut-rate Bond knockoff…

Pierce Brosnan tries to reclaim his glory days with the spy thriller "The November Man" but instead gets a sad DTV-style ripoff with lame action.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb

Career

Stop eating lunch at your desk

What are you doing for lunch today? If you are like most workers, you'll be eating at your desk - which isn't much of a…

Parenting

Lure your baby to sleep with Maroon 5…

These new renditions of "Moves Like Jagger" and "Payphone" are Maroon 5 like you've never heard them before.

Wellbeing

Who is having the most orgasms?

  Single lesbians report having orgasms more often than heterosexual women but both gay and straight men still come out on top of the climax…

Home

Jonathan Adler shares his tips for a great…

Jonathan Adler took a break from boogie boarding at his beach house to tell us how to keep that Labor Day party festive.