Lawyers for suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev urged a federal judge Friday to give them more time to prepare their opposition to the enforcement of the death penalty in the case, saying they are still waiting for evidence and conducting their own investigations.
US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz plans to make a recommendation by Oct. 31 on whether to seek the death penalty to US Attorney General Eric Holder, who will ultimately make the decision. And under federal guidelines, Ortiz can consider Tsarnaev’s opposition. She has set a deadline for Oct. 24 for the defense team to respond, a deadline the team says it can’t meet.
“Simply put, the government’s deadline … fails to provide the defense with a reasonable opportunity to make a presentation to the United States attorney concerning death penalty authorization,” the defense team said. “This court should exercise its inherent scheduling authority to ensure that the defense can make a meaningful presentation, which, in turn, will promote more fair, orderly and, indeed, cost-effective progression of the case.”
Federal prosecutors have argued that the defense team has had six months since the April 15 bombing to prepare their opposition. They also argued that the decision of whether to enforce the death penalty is up to Holder, and that US District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. has no authority to extend the deadline.
In a filing Friday, the defense team argued that O’Toole indeed has the authority to set a schedule.
Tsarnaev, now 20, faces multiple charges that carry the death penalty for the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260. He and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, also allegedly shot MIT police officer Sean Collier.
Authorities said Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed during a police chase in Watertown during which he was involved in a gun battle with police, and his brother ran over him with a car.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is currently being held without bail.