The lawyers representing Dzhokar Tsarnaev, the suspect in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, are asking that statements he made immediately after he was captured in April 2013 should be thrown out. They also plan to challenge the constitutionality of the death penalty.
Tsarnaev was questioned by federal authorities for 36 hours while still in a hospital bed, recovering from injuries from gunshot wounds and in critical condition. According to The Associated Press, they say that he was not read his rights, including right to having an attorney present while being questioned. Therefore, anything he said should not be considered voluntary, the lawyers said in a pretrial filing.
Authorities skipped reading his rights due to ongoing public safety concerns, but the attorneys say the questioning continued “despite the fact that he quickly allayed concerns about any continuing threat to public safety, repeatedly asked for a lawyer, and begged to rest.”
His lawyers also say that their client’s rights were violated when his first court appearance was delayed to keep the questioning continuing.
The Boston Herald, Tsarnaev’s attorneys, David Bruck and Judy Clarke, also filed a motion on Wednesday asking that the death penalty be ruled unconstitutional. They believe the Federal Death Penalty Act violates the “Eighth Amendment because, as manifested by its seemingly ineradicable pattern of racially disparate enforcement and the risk it poses of executing innocent people, the death penalty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.”
The death penalty is banned in Massachusetts, but Tsarnaev’s case is being handled in federal court. Attorney General Eric Holder said in January that he would allow federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty for Tsarnaev. The trial is set to start in November.
Tsarnaev, 20, is accused of planning the bombing with his older brother Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout with police days after the bombing. Three people were killed and over 260 injured.