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Marathon suspect’s lawyers seek family’s testimony

November 7, 2013

BOSTON (AP) — Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev say federal prosecutors are withholding evidence they consider crucial to their defense of him in the death penalty case, including his family’s testimony.

In a memo filed in court Thursday, Tsarnaev’s lawyers say prosecutors have been “spotty and inconsistent” on turning over materials.

Tsarnaev is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction and several other charges in the April 15 bombing.

Authorities say Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan, 26, ethnic Chechens from Russia, built pressure cooker bombs and placed them near the finish line, killing three people and injured more than 260. Tamerlan died following a shootout with police several days after the bombings.

Seventeen of the charges carry a possible death penalty.

Prosecutors have said many of Tsarnaev’s requests for evidence are premature because a death penalty hearing in the case is not imminent. Prosecutors have not said whether they have recommended seeking the death penalty to the U.S. attorney general.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers say prosecutors continue to withhold reports and testimony concerning Tsarnaev’s family, including immigration files they say contain information important to defend Tsarnaev and to argue mitigating factors during sentencing. They say that even after getting signed releases from certain Tsarnaev family members, immigration authorities have refused to release their files, citing the ongoing investigation.

His lawyers also said they believe numerous law enforcement interviews of teachers, neighbors, classmates and friends of Tsarnaev have not been turned over by prosecutors.

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