BOSTON (AP) — Lawyers for two friends of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects argued Monday that the friends have been unfairly targeted because of their relationships with the men accused of carrying out the deadly attack.
Azamat Tazhayakov, 20, a college friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and Khairullozhon Matanov, a Quincy cab driver who was a friend of Tsarnaev’s brother, Tamerlan, were in court for separate hearings on charges of impeding the investigation into the 2013 bombing.
Tazhayakov is accused of removing items from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth days after the bombing, while Matanov is accused for deleting files from his computer and lying to investigators.
Neither man is accused of participating in the attack or knowing about the bombings in advance.
With Tazhayakov’s trial set to begin next week, his lawyers said they were confident he will be acquitted. Attorney Matthew Meyers told reporters that prosecutors offered Tazhayakov a deal if he agreed to plead to reduced charges, but he rejected it.
"He’s confident," Meyers said. "He knows he’s not guilty."
Meyers would not disclose the terms of the plea offer. A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz would not confirm that a plea deal was offered.
Meyers said Tazhayakov should not be punished because of his friendship with Tsarnaev.
"Even the average juror in Boston will be shocked by the lack of evidence," he said.
Nicholas Wooldridge, another lawyer representing Tazhayakov, said the defense is hopeful of finding an impartial jury, but he acknowledged it could be challenging because of the impact the bombing had in the Boston area.
"Even though this case is not the Boston Marathon bombing case, still people have a connection with that," he said.
Authorities say the Tsarnaev brothers planted two pressure cooker bombs at the marathon last year, killing three and wounding more than 260. Tamerlan died following a shootout with police several days later. Dzhokhar is awaiting trial and faces the possibility of the death penalty.
The other Tsarnaev friend in court Monday, Matanov, is accused of lying when questioned about his relationship with the brothers.
A judge rejected a plea from Matanov’s lawyer, Edward Hayden, to release his client on bail as he awaits trial.
Hayden argued that Matanov, 23, who moved to the United States from Kyrgyzstan in 2010, went to police on his own the morning after the FBI released photos of the Tsarnaevs as suspects in the bombing. He identified the brothers and gave police their address and phone numbers.
Hayden, who initially did not make an argument for bail, said he has now found an apartment where Matanov can live, and is actively looking for a job for him. Matanov was fired from his job as a cab driver after he was indicted.
"This court has heard no evidence of how he obstructed this investigation or how he intended to obstruct this investigation," Hayden argued.
He said the FBI knows Matanov “is just a hard-working guy driving that cab for about 15 to 18 hours per day.”
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Garland, in arguing against bail, said Matanov has sent money to friends and family around the world, making it possible that he could have a “soft landing” in another country if he decided to flee the United States.
"These are people who might want to take him in because they owe him some sort of a debt, even if it’s just a debt of friendship," Garland said.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler agreed with prosecutors that Matanov poses a flight risk and rejected his request to be released on bail.
Two brothers convicted of filing a false $2 million claim to the Boston Marathon victims’ compensation fund using the name of a long-dead aunt were sentenced Monday to three years in prison.
Branden Mattier, 23, and Domunique Grice, 28, were convicted this month of conspiracy to commit larceny and attempt to commit larceny. Mattier also was convicted of identity fraud.
Prosecutors said the brothers submitted a claim to The One Fund claiming their aunt lost her legs in the April 15, 2013, bombing that killed three people and injured more than 260. The fund alerted authorities that the claim was suspicious.
Massachusetts State Police arrested Mattier when he accepted a fake check. Prosecutors said the brothers planned to test drive a new Mercedes-Benz the day they received the check.
The brothers both spoke in court about how the incident and their time in prison had changed them for the better.
But Suffolk Superior County Judge Jeffrey Locke told the men their crime seemed “almost sociopathic” and that neither brother seemed to express remorse in court about the potential impact to bombing victims or One Fund donors.
Locke also sentenced them to three years of probation, during which they will have to volunteer to help victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing every other Saturday for six hours.
Defense attorneys, who had asked that their clients be sentenced to five years’ probation only, said they would reserve the right to appeal.
Prosecutors had sought a four- to five-year prison sentence.
With August and the renewal of the SAMs soon approaching, it is time that we apply the necessary measures for the SAMs to be vacated since they are clearly unwarranted. Write a letter. It can be a few sentences or a few pages, it doesn’t matter as long as you voice your concern.
A federal judge has granted a request from Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-HAHR’ tsahr-NEYE’-ehv) for jury records for Massachusetts federal courts over the past three years.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers asked for the records to determine whether a plan adopted in 2009 has corrected racial imbalances on juries. The changes followed a court challenge from two black defendants who said black citizens were underrepresented because they lived in neighborhoods where courts often didn’t have current addresses for residents.
Prosecutors do not oppose the request. Judge George O’Toole Jr. granted it Thursday.
The names and addresses of people called for jury duty will not be provided to the defense.
Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges related to the 2013 bombings, which killed three and wounded more than 260.
Since the meltdown of 2008, U.S. universities have collaborated with the Pentagon to study dynamics of social movements worldwide. The goal of “terrorism studies” is to find possible vectors of resistance, which are to be identified and eradicated, like a disease. The Minerva Initiative, like NSA spying, sees the entire planet as “enemy territory.”
Today’s hearing in the case of US v Tsanraev began at 10.00 am. As expected, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had waived his right to attend. Judy Clarke, Miriam Conrad, David Bruck and Timothy Watkins were present for the defense today as were William Weinreb, Aloke Chakravarty and Nadine Pellegrini for the prosecution. The defense team entered the courtroom just a few minutes prior to the prosecution.
Proceedings opened with what Judge O’Toole referred to as “old business.” David Bruck, who did most of the speaking for the defense today, complained to the court that the presence of an FBI agent when Dzhokhar is visited by his sisters and a member of the defense team is continues to be problematic. Bruck stated that these visits are in fact legal visits and should be treated as such. He reminded the court that at the last status conference in April the government had proposed a “firewall” , that being an FBI agent who would not be part of the prosecution, and that the judge had not in fact ruled on this matter yet.
Dzhokhar has, apparently, received two such visits since the last conference in April. When Judge O’Toole inquired as to whether the presence of an FBI agent was “merely an inconvenience”, David Bruck responded with “No!”, ( loudly – for DB), and went on to explain that these visits “should be confidential” and that an agent in the room, “listening to every word and taking notes”, violated that confidentiality. He stressed the point that the presence of the FBI at legal visits prevented the defense from “doing their work” and insisted that there were no security concerns to justify this presence. (Following this a brief discussion between the concerned parties ensued, regarding the suitability of an FBI agent from out of state for “sitting in” on visits. Rhode Island was mentioned, but as all appeared to have moved away from their microphones at this point I missed most of this and believe the majority of others in the courtroom most likely missed it too.)
The prosecution’s response, presented by William Weinreb, was to inform the court that any FBI agent sitting in on Dzhokhar’s visits with his sisters and members of his defense team, did not in fact report to the prosecution, but rather to the office of the US Attorney, and only in the case that it might be suspected that the SAMs restrictions might be violated. Weinreb stressed that “mixed legal and social visits” were not recognized under Special Administrative Measures, nor indeed by the Bureau of Prisons. At this point Judge O’Toole hurriedly declared that “things are satisfactory as they are.” David Bruck responded briefly, saying that the defense will “do what we can”, but added that it was most likely that they would have cause to bring this matter before the court again.
The second issue to be dealt with in court today was the Motion to Schedule a Hearing Re: Leaks and Public Comments by LE. (Doc 280) Judge O’Toole stated that he had “seen the interviews in real time.” (Presumably he was referring to both “60 Minutes” and the “National Geographic Special.) He went on to say that he was “unhappy” and considered the participation of the two retired FBI agents, Richard DesLauriers and Stephanie Douglas, to be “unnecessary”, adding that had Deslauriers and Douglas been active agents at the time of filming, their actions would have been considered inappropriate. The prosecution was reminded that although they may not have legal control over former agents, they do in fact have practical control. O’Toole did ask the prosecution if they intended to call either DesLauriers or Douglas as witnesses at trial and Weinreb responded that they did not. The judge then requested that prosecution remind all involved with their case to be mindful of “integrity at trial.” His next action was to deny the Motion to Schedule a Hearing, commenting that to do so would, in his opinion, “make things worse.” (?)
Judy Clarke then responded for the defense citing a “high level of rhetoric.” She requested a court order and offered the opinion that admonishments had thus far failed to stop leaks. Judge O’Toole said that he considered a court order “unnecessary” and stated that should he choose to act, he could do so without a court order.
The Motion for Grand Jury Instructions Regarding the Death Penalty, and to Strike the Capital “Special Finding’, (Doc 288) was denied.
The judge indicated that a court order will be made in regard to the Motion for Disclosure of Jury Records. (Doc 305) It was stated by the prosecution that this information would be provided “shortly.” When pressed they were able to confirm that this meant within a few days. Much was made of the fact that it has taken five days to remove jurors personal information. Prosecution added that some items as requested by the defense, in regard to jury records, “does not in fact exist.”
Motions to suppress were discussed in court today and both parties agreed that evidential hearings would need to be scheduled. The prosecution confirmed that they do not intend to use statements made by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev whilst under interrogation in Beth Israel Deaconess hospital as part of their case in the liability phase of a trial, but that they may use these statements in any sentencing phase which may result from a trial. Miriam Conrad, for the defense, again raised the issue that searches for both digital and physical evidence may have exceeded the scope of the respective warrants. Judge O’Toole said that he intended to defer on these matters.
The judge ruled in favor of the defense regarding their Motion to Strike “Betrayal of the United States”as a Non-Statutory Aggravating Factor. (Doc 279) He went on to say that it was “both prejudicial and inappropriate to distinguish between a born or naturalized citizen” and that “only the former take an oath.”
The remainder of the hearing was taken up with discussion on discovery, disclosure of expert witnesses and the fact that a trial would be conducted in two phases for which the same jury would be empaneled. The disclosure of expert witnesses will also take place in two phases upon the recommendation of the defense. Eighty items of digital evidence recently requested by Dzhokhar’s defense were said by the prosecution to have only recently become available. They added that the defense might expect to receive this evidence within the next few days. There was some discord over what would be considered expert witness testimony as opposed to non-expert witness. It was at this point that Judy Clarke said ” I can’t believe we are excluding explosives as expertise in this case.” The prosecution has requested the names of expert witnesses for the defense, in addition to their areas of expertise. Judy Clarke objected to this, citing the Fifth Amendment. She claims to provide these names to the prosecution would serve to provide advance notice of the defense strategy to the prosecution.
When Judge O’Toole moved to adjourn the hearing the defense was quick to remind him that there are further motions upon which he has yet to rule. O’Toole declined discussion of these motions and expressed an intention to “rule on the papers.” (I understand that one of David Frank’s tweets referenced this and the fact that O’Toole seems inclined to rule on the outstanding motions “without the benefit of hearing oral argument”?) The defense appeared surprised and certainly less than happy with O’Toole’s refusal to discuss any further issues today. The next status conference in the case of US v Tsarnaev was set for 08/14/14 at 10.00 am in courtroom 9. The possibility of an additional hearing to be scheduled between now and then was mentioned. Today’s hearing concluded at 10.40 am. Dzhokhar’s defense team left the courtroom almost immediately following the adjournment of the hearing, while the prosecution lingered in the courtroom for fifteen minutes.
As I have already indicated on woodybox’s thread, I am far from impressed with Judge O’Toole’s performance on this case. My opinion on his ability as a judge declines with each hearing I attend. If O’Toole continues to preside over this case I fear that a fair trial will not result.
For anyone who doesn’t have the motion being referred to, the footnote in question states:
Assuming that a presumption of prejudice is rebuttable, a question about which there appears to be a conflict in the circuits and which the Supreme Court did not resolve in Skilling (130 S. Ct. at n. 18), we believe that the strength of the yet-to-be-obtained content and polling data analysis will make rebutting the presumption impossible.
Forgive me if this answer is hard to understand but the law is often that way. Anyone in the legal field feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but I believe that what the defense is saying is that the presumption of prejudice (that the majority of people in MA polled are aware and/or were impacted by the BMB, already believe Jahar to be guilty & want him to get the DP) isn’t something that the prosecution is going to be able to rebut (prove in court to be false since how can you prove that the people polled didn’t answer truthfully? And even without a poll its kind of a no brainer that most of MA, esp Boston wants Jahar to either be dead or in jail forever as they are convinced of his guilt and therefore could never be impartial jurors)
Given that they (the defense) don’t feel the data can be proven false, they maintain the need for a change of venue. Additionally (since they were denied more time to research the issue further before submitting their arguments for a change of venue) IF the prosecution did make an attempt to prove the defenses info re: presumption of prejudice in MA jurors to be untrue or inaccurate, additional time and studies would help prove the prosecutions argument false and only serve to further show the discrepancy in presumption of guilt the further away from Boston you get & strengthen the defenses argument.
Basically, the more studies done the more it will show that people in & close to MA already have found Jahar guilty in their minds and if Ortiz tries to claim that this isn’t the case and that a fair trial for Jahar can actually occur in Boston, it will be impossible to prove (because, lets face it - whether you think the brothers are innocent or guilty I think most would agree that the thought of a fair trial for Jahar in Boston is laughable)
Anyone testifying would be compensated for their time/travel expenses so Ortiz will likely argue that moving the trial to DC would cost tax payers more money and that it would deny Bostonians (who aren’t testifying) the ability to show up for the trial to watch it in person (and I’m sure give dirty looks or make comments to Jahar, his defense team, any family or supporters attending). PLUS, I think (from an older article when the topic of venue change first arose) that a venue change to DC would mean a new federal judge being assigned to the case. Given how often O’Toole sides with the prosecution, I doubt Ortiz would want to have to lose him and have a new judge who may not jump at her every request.