A federal magistrate judge has approved a request by Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to have prison officials provide his lawyers with records related to his incarceration, including daily activity and suicide watch logs, psychology data files, photographs, commissary files, and other records.
But US Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler rejected a defense request to have the US Bureau of Prisons keep that information from prosecutors without a court order or the defense lawyers’ consent.
The request for the records was made in a secret filing with the court. Bowler made the request public in her ruling Monday after finding there was no reason to keep it confidential. The nature of the request and how the information would be used was not immediately clear.
On Friday, the judge similarly made public a defense request for periodic photos of Tsarnaev, to document his condition and whether it improves, in what could be an attempt to show that the 19-year-old was in poor health when he reportedly gave statements claiming responsibility for the bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260.
The photos could be used as evidence to try to have the statements suppressed, with the lawyers arguing they were made involuntarily. Legal observers also said the photos could be used to argue against the death penalty, by making the claim that the teenager had suffered injuries during his capture and that a lifelong prison sentence would be suitable.
“It is true that photographs may provide probative evidence to support sentence mitigation arguments,” Bowler wrote.
Tsarnaev is being held at the Federal Medical Center Devens in Ayer. US Attorney General Eric Holder will decide whether prosecutors should seek the death penalty. Tsarnaev is facing charges of using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death in the bombings. His brother, Tamerlan, 26, the other suspect in the bombings, died following a confrontation with police several days later when he was shot by police and run over by his younger brother, who was escaping in a sport utility vehicle.
The brothers are also accused of killing MIT police Officer Sean Collier.
Also Monday, prosecutors and lawyers agreed to postpone to July 2 a probable cause hearing, citing the complex charges and the need to review evidence. Bowler has yet to rule on the change.