The judge rejected a request from prosecutors to schedule Tsarnaev’s trial for next fall, saying it was too early to decide on a trial date.
Under the impossible circumstances of this case I think they are doing as much as they possible can. Obviously the restrictions are a huge burden to have to deal with on top of everything else. They’ve got so much evidence to review that it would probably stretch as long as the great wall of China and that’s still with them not having everything they have asked for. The prosecution seems to be treating everything as if the trial would be a simple formality as they obviously feel like they’ve got Jahar dead to rights. With them still refusing to provide all of the evidence that the defense is asking for it is infuriating esp when Carmen Ortiz makes a statement saying that her office has provided all of the info that they deem relevant. Its not up to them to pick and choose what to provide the defense with. They keep claiming that they have nothing to hide but then turn around and deny (or just completely ignore) another request from Jahars legal team for specific evidence. Its not like they’re just saying to the prosecution - give us everything you’ve got. They are listing specific records and documentation that they have not received and are entitled to. It seems to me that enough time has passed that the judge should compel the prosecution to provide the evidence and give them a deadline to do so (although we know deadlines don’t seem to mean shit to the office of the prosecution)
With no trial date set yet this is the time in the case where the defense should be being inundated with discovery from the prosecution instead its like pulling teeth to get anything. Jahars team has asked repeatedly for certain evidence and has been given 1 lame excuse after another as to why the prosecution can’t, or haven’t already provided the evidence. They’re basically picking and choosing what they feel like turning over and making excuses for the rest. The defense can’t have the autopsy and medical reports of those injured because they’re “too graphic” according to the prosecution. They can’t get any info re the triple murder in 2011 because its an “ongoing investigation”. If that’s true then why was it a cold case until Tamerlan was killed? Additionally if they are saying that Ibragim REALLY did confess and implicated Tamerlan in the murders, what more is there for them to investigate? They have 1 dead man accusing another dead man…what else are they claiming to be doing in this “ongoing” investigation when both parties supposedly involved are dead? Are they planning on posthumously indicting & trying them?
At first when none of Jahars team said a word to the press I wasn’t sure what to make of the situation and all the conspiracy theorists going around claiming that they were only pretending to defend Jahar because they were in on some secret government plot didn’t help much either. In researching the people he has defending him, it made me realize that these people really know what they are doing and are very good at their jobs. But this is a once in a lifetime case for all of them so I’m sure its very daunting knowing what is at stake and that the whole country, if not the world, is watching. To me it doesn’t seem like their strategy is to plead out. If Jahar was planning to fold, this ongoing battle re the SAMs restrictions would be seemingly pointless. Why would the lawyers be battling out the ability to meet with Jahar without having to get their files reviewed & claiming that they need more time with their client to work on their defense strategy when they don’t plan on even putting on a defense?
It seems their hands are really tied in alot of ways and that they’ve having to jump through 1 hoop after another just to try to accomplish the most basic of tasks. The SAM’s are not only a huge hinderence they also have his lawyers walking on eggshells for fear of inadvertently violating portions of the SAM’s that are very vague. I’m glad that the ACLU has finally decided to become involved even if the judge had their request to submit a motion on Jahar’s behalf stricken from the record.
Jahar’s lawyers also seem to be willing to make brief comments to the media now about feeling like there isn’t a level playing field and that the prosecution seems to be running the show while the judge just sits by as a spectator. They are trying to make the point with the few people who actually care about rights to see that even if you hate Jahars guts he is still entitled under the law to the same rights as any other citizen and you can’t just throw those rights out the window because of the severity of the crimes he is being charged with. As it is, when this first happened there were plenty of politicians demanding that he be treated as an enemy combatant & send to Guantanamo.
With the prosecutions withholding of evidence and the next status hearing not until mid February, I don’t see how its possible for the defense to be ready for trial come fall of next year esp if the SAMs restrictions remain in place through February, or worse, they become permanent. If the prosecution has as air tight of a case as they claim, why are they seemingly rushing this to trial? I know a year seems like a long time but with the amount of paperwork, videos, witness statements and all kinds of other records to not only sort through but to then use them to start laying the framework for a defense just seems like Ortiz intentionally wants an unprepared defense team as trial. Plus the time frame given for the estimated length of the trial seems to have grown in more recent statements since the arraignment. Originally I thought they said 90 days but after the latest court appearance I’m hearing 6 months being thrown around.
In an article discussing the various deadlines set at the last hearing I was happy to see mention of the possible filing of a motion for a change of venue. I don’t even know where would be a better place to hold such a trial but they’ve gotta get out of MA altogether. There is no way in hell they could find an impartial jury in or around Boston unless the members of the jury had all been in comas since April. I’m also curious as to how the venue change works. If the trial got moved to say…Indiana or someplace I know the defense and prosecution lawyers would remain the same but would a new federal judge from that state be appointed to take over for O’Toole? I have no clue what state would be the most unbiased and capable of reaching a just verdict using their brains not their hearts or the victims calls for vengeance as the deciding factor.
I also wonder if MA is serious about trying Jahar at the state level once the federal case has ended. With no money I’m assuming that Jahar would again be appointed a public defender but a state PD. Yikes! They’re not exactly known for their stellar legal skills
Sorry for such a long post…once I get going I can’t stop lol I hope that I answered your question :)
Great answer. What I’m really not getting is this ”The defense can’t have the autopsy and medical reports of those injured because they’re “too graphic” according to the prosecution.” This doesn’t even make sense. These are people whose jobs everyday is about death and destruction and the most heinous and violent of events and people that one can imagine so what is this now? The autopsy and medical reports are crucial because the injuries would be able to tell the location of the bomb, time and manner of death, etc. This makes me think that they have something to hide.
SIERRA SCHWARTZ: The man I knew is astronomically different than the man that is hiding from the cops today. The Jahar that I knew at the time was friendly, quiet but not in a alarming way. He was just, you know, soft-spoken but very, you know, funny, very sweet, wouldn’t harm a fly, someone that you would want to talk to.
BLOCK: You know, I was talking with one of your classmates on the phone today and she mentioned that she also had a class with Jahar. And he typically would wear a baseball cap backwards.
SCHWARTZ: Yes, yes. That was his thing.
BLOCK: Which is, as we know now, what the suspect of the marathon bombings was doing.
SCHWARTZ: Exactly. He’d wear it backwards and, you know, a pair of gray sweatpants. It’s weird. I can almost think of what he would wear. It’s very bizarre to see his face all over the news, wanted by the FBI. He was just, you know, just a normal, everyday person. And it’s just crazy how people can change so quickly.
BLOCK: What kinds of kids did he hang out with mostly in high school?
SCHWARTZ: He hung out with, you know, the well-liked kids. He - I saw him as a floater. He - you know, he had friends in different friendship circles. He was never an outcast, never ever made fun of. He was always a friend to many, I guess, at the time he was.
BLOCK: What was the class that you had together?
SCHWARTZ: I had introduction to acting with him. So that’s how I got to know him. I’m sure if it had been a bigger class I would not have been able to have as good of a description. But since I had a small class, it’s much easier.
BLOCK: When you saw the images that were released by the FBI last night…
BLOCK: …did you know right away? Did you recognize Jahar?
SCHWARTZ: At the time, when I first saw the FBI images, there was rumor that the man - a wrong rumor, incorrect - that the man in the white cap, who is Jahar, was the missing student from Brown University.
BLOCK: We should explain, there’s a student who’s been missing for, I think, a little over a month…
BLOCK: …or part of a month.
SCHWARTZ: Yes, ma’am.
BLOCK: And there was some speculation that this might have been that student.
SCHWARTZ: Yes. So we had all assumed that it was him. We didn’t put two and two together. But last night when I saw his picture I was like, oh - I was thinking in the back of my head - oh, he looks just like Jahar. That’s so weird. Like, what a coincidence.
BLOCK: And when did you put it together that actually this was your classmate?
SCHWARTZ: This morning when I woke up. I woke up around 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m. and I had a bunch of texts from my friends saying, Sierra, it’s Jahar. It was actually Jahar. I didn’t think it was him but it is. And we just all cried together. We mourned - for the people whose lives were lost; for someone that we thought was such an, you know, innocent, kind person that had - could have possibly done something so horrendous and unspeakable. It’s heartbreaking. It really is. It’s hard to imagine or even comprehend.
BLOCK: You were saying you were all mourning the people who died. And I suppose also mourning the memory of this kid you knew.
SCHWARTZ: Of course. We were in absolute shock and mourning that the person that exists now is - it’s not the person that we grew up with. It seems like he just changed in such a rapid, crazy way.
BLOCK: And you said you were part of a large group that went to prom together.
SCHWARTZ: Yes. It was a group of maybe 30, 40 people. We all had individual dates but we took our photos together. We took, you know, ate snacks and went on the party bus together.
BLOCK: So part of your brain has an image of him, I suppose, in a tuxedo.
SCHWARTZ: Yes, exactly. Part of my brain sees him as, you know, the kid in the backwards baseball cap with the gray sweatpants or, you know, in a tuxedo laughing. And another part of me sees him as, you know, a murderer, someone who committed these just horrendous acts. And slowly I’m able to put these two together and, you know, accept that it’s one person.
BLOCK: How do you come to terms with that, do you think? How do you try to explain that to yourself?
SCHWARTZ: I’ve been trying to, you know, think: people change. There’s just some things that are out of our control. I was feeling very guilty. I know a lot of us are feeling guilty, you know. Could we have known? Could we have done something? Is there any way? But I think the truth of the matter is that we just didn’t know and that something had happened and something had sparked this. But none of us knew.
BLOCK: Sierra Schwartz, thank you for coming in.
SCHWARTZ: Thank you very much.
A lawyer for one of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s college friends asked a federal judge on Tuesday to lift a court order that restricts what he can say in the friend’s own criminal case.
The attorney for Azamat Tazhayakov argued before US Magistrate Judge…
Attorneys for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev plan to make their case to have restrictions placed on him in prison lifted at a November hearing.
A motion hearing and status conference has been set for Nov. 12 in the case against Tsarnaev. During the hearing, a federal judge is expected to address a motion to vacate Special Administrative Measures.
Earlier this month, Tsarnaev’s lawyers field a motion saying outside of receiving visits from them, their 20-year-old client has been confined to his cell. They also claim he has “very limited access” to a small outdoor enclosure. The attorneys said the Special Administrative Measures were imposed in August at the request of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and the approval of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
"SAMs," as they are known, are used in terrorism cases and other high-profile cases when authorities allege there is "substantial risk" that a defendant’s communications or contacts with people "could result in death or serious bodily injury" to others. The special restrictions were placed on shoe bomb suspect Richard Reid, "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh and other terror suspects.
The measures restrict access to the mail, the media, the telephone and visitors.
Ibrahim Todashev was shot and killed on May 22 by law enforcement while being questioned at his Orlando apartment. Todashev was a friend of accused (and deceased) Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. At the time, law enforcement offered little (really almost no) information, stating only that a "violent confrontation" occurred and that the matter was under internal investigation. But leaks from law enforcement sources indicated that prior to being shot, Todashev had confessed to having participated in a 2011 Waltham triple homicide and had also implicated Tsarnaev in the murders.
Todashev was back in the news this week when attorneys prosecuting the younger Dzhokhar Tsarnaev filed court papers stating what we were already pretty sure we knew — that prior to being shot by law enforcement Ibrahim Todashev told investigators that “Tamerlan Tsarnaev participated in the Waltham homicides.” But that’s it. No additional information has been released about what happened in that Orlando apartment.
A summary, below, of who isn’t answering the questions being asked, and what they are saying in the meantime:
- FBI: The New York Times reported that a Boston-based FBI agent shot Todashev after questioning him alongside detectives from the Massachusetts State Police. On May 29, a week after Todashev’s death, the FBI released a statement saying that the agency was “conducting a review” of the May 22nd shooting in Orlando. The FBI’s statement promised that no “comment regarding investigative details” would be offered until the review is complete. Up to this point, that’s a promise the agency has kept. Five months after the shooting, no additional details have been released by the agency. Just this week, the FBI told the Orlando Sentinel that the “agency’s internal review of the shooting is ongoing and no other details will be released.”
- Massachusetts State Police: Anonymous law enforcement sources told the New York Times that Todashev was shot after being questioned by an FBI agent and two Massachusetts State Police detectives. And sources have indicated that at least one of the two detectives was in the room when Todashev was shot. But the State Police have offered no explanation of what happened inside that Orlando apartment.
- Middlesex District Attorney’s Office A spokeswoman for the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office declined to comment, explaining only that the 2011 triple homicide is an “ongoing and active investigation.”
- Florida State Attorney: In August, Florida State Attorney Jeff Ashton said his office was investigating conducting an independent review of the circumstances that led to the Todashev shooting. But media reports stated that “no timetable was given for the completion of either review.”
- Florida Medical Examiner: Florida officials have declined to release autopsy results, telling the Boston Globe that they were ordered not to do so by the FBI despite having completed the report and calling it “ready for release.”
- Massachusetts Attorney General: Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley said that lack of jurisdiction prevents her from opening up her own investigation. Coakley told WGBH News: “I simply don’t have the authority or jurisdiction.” But she added that if “people are not satisfied with the results” of the reviews currently underway by the FBI and the Florida State Attorney, “then we’ll see what other options we have.”
- Massachusetts Governor: Interviewed this week on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was asked whether or not Massachusetts State Troopers could offer additional information as to what happened in the Orlando apartment that led to Todashev’s death. Patrick refused to elaborate beyond this bewildering statement: “As they say in court, question’s been asked and answered.” Which is interesting in that while the question has been asked, it definitely has not been answered.
Oh, and as if having a friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev shot by law enforcement weeks after the bombing wasn’t cause enough for conspiracy theories, there’s also the matter of what’s gone on with respect to Todashev’s friend and girlfriend in recent weeks:
- The girlfriend, deported: In mid-September, Todashev’s former live-in girlfriend Tatiana Gruzdeva gave an interview to Boston Magazine. Ten days later, she called Boston Magazine from jail. Gruzdeva claimed she was “being held in solitary confinement” and said she was told "she was being deported because of her interviews with Boston Magazine."
- The friend, interrogated and detained: Ashurmamad Miraliev, a friend of Todashev, was arrested after what has been described as a six-hour interrogation during which he was denied counsel. (He is now being represented by a public defender.) The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is now asking for an investigation, this time into what they call a “a pattern of egregious civil rights violations and abuse by the FBI targeting associates of Ibragim Todashev.”
And so the neverending Todashev saga continues, as the unanswered questions continue to pile up.