A federal judge Wednesday declined a request by lawyers for alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to force prosecutors to turn over more evidence so the defense could better prepare its opposition to the death penalty.
US District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. said in a nine-page ruling that the defense was requesting blanket disclosure of information without showing that the information would be material to the trial, which is the standard prosecutors must follow.
“The defendant has not made a prima facie showing of materiality,” the judge said. “He essentially seeks access to the government’s information haystack because he is confident there are useful evidentiary needles to be found there. That is simply not enough to trigger a disclosure obligation.”
O’Toole did grant one defense request. He ordered prosecutors to turn over actual recordings of Tsarnaev’s phone calls from jail, not just the transcripts, because the recordings could convey information beyond the words themselves, such as vocal inflection.
Though prosecutors have turned over evidence already, the defense attorneys argued that the government has refused to turn over information such as interview reports with Tsarnaev’s friends and family members, as well as the family members’ immigration records.
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