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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lawyers demand investigation of news leaks

Lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev Friday demanded that a federal judge investigate the anonymous sources behind the news reports that a Cambridge man allegedly supplied Tsarnaev with the gun used to kill MIT police Officer Sean Collier.

In their request, lawyers said that they had previously asked US District Court Judge George O’Toole to determine the source of leaks from law enforcement to the news media and were willing to drop the issue after O’Toole issued a warning.

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But now, the defense said, there has been a new round of leaks especially involving the case of Stephen Silva, a Cambridge man who was arrested on federal heroin trafficking and gun charges Monday night and was identified by a number of news outlets as the source of the gun used to kill Collier.

Court papers in the Silva case said only that he was allegedly in possession of a Ruger P95 9mm handgun with an obliterated serial number in February 2013 and did not refer to Tsarnaev or the bombings of April 15, 2013.

“As these almost instantaneous leaks of sensitive investigative information demonstrate, members of law enforcement apparently feel free to ignore the court’s admonition to refrain from discussing the investigation in the media, including trying to marshal the evidence against Mr. Tsarnaev,’’ the defense wrote.

Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, were on the run from police on the night of April 18, 2013, when they allegedly killed Collier in an unsuccessful attempt to steal his service weapon. A Ruger P95 9mm pistol, with its serial number obliterated, was recovered at the scene of a shootout in Watertown, where Tamerlan died, which followed the killing of Collier.

The filing by Tsarnaev’s lawyers Friday identified numerous news outlets that cited anonymous law enforcement or government officials as saying there was a link between Silva and the gun allegedly used by Tsarnaev.

On Wednesday, the Globe quoted Silva’s court-appointed lawyer, Jonathan Shapiro of Boston, as saying he was informed by federal authorities that his client’s gun charge is related to the Collier shooting.

Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to charges that could bring the death penalty in his alleged role in the April 15, 2013, blasts. He is being held in a federal prison in Ayer.

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@ globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.
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