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
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.