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Court orders prison to hand over files in Boston bomb case

Judge Marianne Bowler presides over the case of Robel Phillipos, the teenager accused of lying to FBI agents in the Boston Marathon bombing
Judge Marianne Bowler presides over the case of Robel Phillipos, the teenager accused of lying to FBI agents in the Boston Marathon bombing

BOSTON (Reuters) - A federal judge approved a request by accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's lawyers that his jailers hand over their files on him, including suicide watch logs and psychological data, according to court documents released on Monday.

The defense has said it wants to track 19-year-old Tsarnaev's injuries and mental state while he is held in federal prison to provide evidence of "the voluntariness of his statements" while under interrogation.

Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler of U.S. District Court for Massachusetts said the prison's documents on Dzhokhar also had to be shared with U.S. prosecutors, denying the defense team's call for them to be kept from the state.

Tsarnaev was found hiding in a trailered boat in Watertown, Massachusetts, four days after the April 15 blasts, which killed three people and injured 264 others at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

He was shot in the throat before his capture and is being held in a prison hospital west of Boston. He has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Bowler on Friday had denied a separate request by Dzhokar's attorneys to take photographs of their imprisoned client without sharing them with prosecutors. She decided instead that prison staff could take the pictures in the presence of the defense counsel and that prosecutors would then have access to the photographs.

All the defense requests were made in secret filings with the court, and only made public later.

Tsarnaev's lead attorney was not immediately available to comment on the judge's decisions.

Tsarnaev left a handwritten message inside the hull of the boat describing the attack as retribution for U.S. wars in Muslim countries, according to a CBS News report last week citing unnamed sources.

Tsarnaev's older brother and fellow suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died in a gunbattle with police. He had been on a U.S. government database of potential terrorism suspects, and the United States had twice been warned by Russia that he might be an Islamic militant, according to U.S. security officials.

(Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Bill Trott)

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