Boston Marathon bombing defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will try to keep notes of his interrogation by federal agents from being used in his trial over the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers will seek to suppress notes written by their client and by FBI agents in the days after he was captured and hospitalized in April 2013, according to a federal court filing Wednesday in Boston.
The defense, seeking to save 20-year-old Tsarnaev from the death penalty if he’s convicted, will also ask the judge to block some physical evidence, including FBI reports, search warrant applications and the warrants themselves, according to the filing.
Tsarnaev’s defense lawyers, who have worked on some of the highest-profile death-penalty cases in the U.S., are grappling with prosecutors over evidence three weeks after Boston observed the first anniversary of the attack, in which three people were killed and 260 were injured. A trial is scheduled for November.
After his capture on April 19, 2013, Tsarnaev was questioned for three days by federal agents in a hospital room before a judge read him his constitutional rights to remain silent and seek legal counsel.
During the three days, prosecutors said, Tsarnaev revealed details of the attack to investigators acting under a public-safety exception that allows such questioning if there is a reasonable belief there is imminent danger to the public.
Tsarnaev answered questions freely during that time. He stopped replying after hearing his rights, Republican lawmakers said at the time, criticizing the judge’s action. The U.S. Justice Department said the judge was following the law.
The deadline for the defense’s formal request to suppress evidence was Wednesday. U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr., who is overseeing the case, granted a defense request to file parts of the motion to suppress under seal to ensure details of the FBI notes don’t become public.
Tsarnaev’s defense said in a filing on May 4 that federal prosecutors are wrongfully keeping him from talking privately with his two sisters by suggesting the women may engage in “terrorist tradecraft.”
The lawyers earlier this month complained in court filings of “inappropriate” leaks by law enforcement that might harm their case. Tsarnaev’s foreign birth and immigration history are being misused by prosecutors who accused him of betraying the U.S., they said.
Tsarnaev last month lost a bid to force the U.S. to turn over evidence that may show his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, radicalized him and led the attack — evidence they said may persuade a jury to spare his life if he’s convicted. Tamerlan, 26, was killed in a shootout with the police in the days after the bombing.
The Tsarnaevs, immigrants of Chechen descent, had lived in the U.S. for more than a decade.
The case is U.S. v. Tsarnaev, 13-cr-10200, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).