scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Tsarnaev lawyers’ motion hints at declaration

Attorneys for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev suggested in court records late Monday that the suspected Boston Marathon bomber may have been making a declaration “in anticipation of his own death” when he wrote on a boat in Watertown of his alleged reason for planting a bomb at the finish line.

Tsarnaev allegedly wrote on the boat while he was hiding from authorities, “The US government is killing our innocent civilians,” as well as, “I can’t stand to see such evil go unpunished.” But his defense attorneys rejected the notion that it was a way for him to inspire others to violence.

“There is no express call for others to take up arms,” the attorneys argued, adding, “On their face, Mr. Tsarnaev’s alleged words simply state the motive for his actions, a declaration in anticipation of his own death.”


Tsarnaev was captured in the boat by law enforcement officers at gunpoint on the night of April 19, four days after the bombings. His older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died in a gunfight with police that began earlier that day in Watertown.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces the possibility of the death penalty for his alleged role in the bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260 people. He and his brother were also accused of killing an MIT police officer.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers argued that he was not inspiring others, in the boat messages, in a court motion Monday opposing prison restrictions on him at the prison at Fort Devens in Ayer, where he is being held.

The defense team asked US District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. to lift some of the restrictions. A hearing has been scheduled on Nov. 12.

Prosecutors argue that the restrictions, called Special Administrative Measures, or SAMs, are meant to limit communications by Tsarnaev. They allege he has the drive and the ability to send messages to family members and supporters that could inspire others to commit further violence.


But the defense attorneys argued there is no evidence that he has tried or would try to send a message inspiring others. They also argue that the restrictions unduly limit his ability to communicate with others, specifically the defense team.

Defense lawyers, for instance, have had to clear materials they show Tsarnaev with prosecutors, a rule they say interferes with attorney-
client privilege.

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at MValencia@
. Follow him on Twitter @MiltonValencia.