Two college friends of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have asked that they be permitted to wear street clothes, rather than prison garb, at their upcoming court hearings on obstruction of justice charges so they could be more presentable.
Lawyers for Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov argued in a court filing Tuesday that the case has already attracted much media attention, and that sketch artists have completed drawings of the courtroom scene. Those drawings will increasingly be published or broadcast on television as the June 30 trial approaches.
“It would help lessen the potential prejudice to the defendant to be portrayed in print and on television as wearing normal, street clothes rather than the typical orange jail jumpsuit,” the attorney for Kadyrbayev, Robert G. Stahl, said in a court filing Tuesday.
He asked that he be able to bring a set of clothes to the court each morning for Kadyrbayev to change into, and said that prosecutors had no objection to the request. A lawyer for Tazhayakov also asked for his client that “measures be taken to ensure that the jurors never see him in restraints in or out of the courtroom.”
“Media coverage of the accused dressed in prison garb creates a great potential for harm,” the lawyer, Nicholas Wooldridge said.
Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov, and Robel Phillipos, all 20, were friends of Tsarnaev at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Phillipos also knew him from Cambridge.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov allegedly went into Tsarnaev’s dorm room days after the April 15, 2013, bombing, took a computer, and threw a backpack containing fireworks into a trash can. They and Phillipos then allegedly lied about it.
Tsarnaev, also 20, faces the death penalty for setting off the bombs, which killed three people and injured more than 260. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov, nationals of Kazakhstan, have been held without bail. Phillipos, a US citizen, has been free awaiting trial.
In a separate filing Tuesday, Stahl asked that the court alter a hearing schedule so that he can call an expert witness at a later time. Stahl obtained an expert witness to testify that Kadyrbayev spoke little English at the time he was given his Miranda rights.
The witness would testify as part of a motion to suppress Kadyrbayev’s statements to authorities, but the witness could be out of the country at the time hearings would be held, Stahl said.