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Feds Push To Limit Which Autopsy Photos Tsarnaev Can See

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in U.S. District Court, July 10, 2013. (Sketch from Christine Cornell)

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in U.S. District Court, July 10, 2013. (Sketch from Christine Cornell)

Boston Marathon Bombings

 

BOSTON (CBS/AP) – Federal prosecutors want to prevent Boston Marathon bombings suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from personally reviewing some of the autopsy photos of the victims.

In a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Boston Monday, the government claimed that allowing Tsarnaev to view the pictures not presented as evidence in the case would violate the victims’ rights to dignity and privacy.

“Specifically, allowing photos of the mutilated bodies of the victims to be viewed by the man accused of mutilating them would needlessly revictimize the family members in the same way that innocent children who are photographed pornographically are revictimized whenever those photos are seen by others,” prosecutors wrote.

“Here, as in other cases where a defendant has no need personally to review sensitive or classified evidence that will not be used against him, the Court has the power to fashion an appropriate order that will safeguard the defendant’s rights without needlessly risking harm to others.”

Miriam Conrad, one of Tsarnaev’s lawyers, declined to comment on the request.

Tsarnaev, 19, has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges, including the use of a weapon of mass destruction. More than half the charges carry a possible death sentence.

Prosecutors allege that he and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, built two pressure cooker bombs and placed them near the finish line of last year’s marathon. Twin explosions killed two women and an 8-year-old boy and injured more than 260.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a shootout with police several days after the April 15 marathon.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is being held in a federal prison as he awaits a trial scheduled to begin in November.

Suffolk University Law School professor Christopher Dearborn said he believes it will be difficult to persuade a judge to restrict Tsarnaev’s access to the autopsy photos, especially because he could be sentenced to death.

“The problem here is if there’s any possibility that there’s something in those photos that could be helpful or potentially helpful to him in a trial or in sentencing, he has to be allowed access to them,” Dearborn said.

“What they are really trying to do is make a strong statement on behalf of the victims’ families, and they have a right to do that. I just don’t think that right can trump the constitutional rights of the defendant.”

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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