Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appeared in the U.S. District Court in South Boston on Monday without their client to plead their case for more time in deciding if he should receive the death penalty.
Defense attorney Judy Clarke said the prosecution has not presented all of the evidence they plan to use in their case, making it difficult for the defense to build a case against the use of the death penalty in a timely manner.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Weinreb said six months since the Marathon bombing was a “reasonable” amount of time for the defense to make its case. He said they plan to make their recommendation to U.S. Attorney Gen. Eric Holder by Oct. 31, who will then have the final say on whether to seek the death penalty.
The death penalty is illegal in Massachusetts, but since the trial is taking place in a federal court, it is a possible option for Tsarnaev.
Tsarnaev, 20, is accused of causing two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15 with his brother Tamerlan. The explosions, which were allegedly caused by homemade pressure cooker bombs packed with ball bearings and nails, killed three people and injured more than 260.
He is also charged with killing Massachusetts Institute of Technology Police Department officer Sean Collier when he and his brother tried to escape from law enforcement officials after the Federal Bureau of Investigation released their photos three days after the bombings.
Tamerlan was killed that night after a shootout with police when Dzhokhar allegedly ran him over while escaping in a stolen vehicle. Dzhokhar was captured the next day hiding in a boat in Watertown after a prolonged manhunt.
He was found with a note that accused the U.S. government of “killing our innocent civilians” and that stated “we Muslims are one body, you hurt one, you hurt us all,” as The Daily Free Press reported on June 28.
Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to all charges against him during his arraignment on July 10. Prosecutors said if the case goes to trial, it could last three to four months and the defense could expect 85 to 100 witnesses.
Three of Tsarnaev’s friends appeared in court on Sept. 13 and pleaded not guilty to charges of impeding with the federal investigation into the bombings. They are all due back in court on Oct. 29 for a status conference. Prosecutors expect to call about 20 witnesses during a two-week trial.