Attorneys for alleged murderer Aaron Hernandez are claiming that Bristol County prosecutors borrowed words and ideas in their court filings from the federal prosecutors who are bringing the case against alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
In a filing Wednesday in Bristol County Superior Court, attorneys for Hernandez, a former New England Patriots star who is accused in a 2013 slaying of a Dorchester man in North Attleborough, repeated their request that Hernandez’s first-degree murder trial, slated to start in January in the Fall River courthouse, be moved because of the intense publicity the case has received.
The defense wrote that Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter’s office, in opposing their change of venue request, cut and pasted sections from documents that federal prosecutors had filed in the Tsarnaev case.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers had also asked for a change of venue. That request was denied late last month by the federal judge overseeing his case.
“Leaving aside all of the reactions one might have on many levels to this extensive, undisclosed submission of another’s work to a court, the conduct appears to convey a lack of interest on the part of the Commonwealth in fashioning its own vigorous opposition to Hernandez’s motion for a change of venue,’’ Hernandez’s attorneys wrote.
“By simply cutting and pasting the work of others, the Commonwealth conveys the message that a recycled opposition is sufficient to blunt Hernandez’s motion for a change of venue. In so doing, the Commonwealth greatly misapprehends the well-founded basis for Hernandez’s motion and the unique circumstances of this case,’’ the defense wrote.
In its filing, the defense identified eight places where, they said, Sutter’s office had echoed the words of prosecutors in US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz’s office “nearly word-for-word.’’
Sutter’s office fired back in a statement on Wednesday night.
“We do not respond to personal attacks, especially where the very issue before the court is the extent of media sensationalism surrounding the present case,” the statement said, adding that parties are required to cite relevant case law in court filings.
“To the extent that both the Tsarnaev and Hernandez change of venue motions raise the same basic legal issues, we were required to cite the same Supreme Court cases setting out the governing law as the US Attorney’s Office. Any experienced legal observer would understand that this is a standard practice.”
Both Hernandez and Tsarnaev have pleaded not guilty to all charges and are being held without bail.
Hernandez, 24, and two co-defendants, Carlos Ortiz, 28, and Ernest Wallace, 42, are accused of murdering a Dorchester man, Odin L. Lloyd, whose bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial yard near Hernandez’s North Attleborough home in June 2013.
In addition to the charges in Bristol County, Hernandez faces first-degree murder charges in Suffolk County in a 2012 double slaying in Boston.
Tsarnaev, along with his late older brother, Tamerlan, is accused of planting the bombs that exploded on April 15, 2013 near the Boston Marathon finish line, killing three people and wounding more than 260 others. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces a host of federal charges.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed several days after the attack in a violent confrontation with police in Watertown. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured later the same day, hiding in a boat stored in a nearby backyard. The two brothers also allegedly killed an MIT police officer in the hours before the confrontation.