Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev "readily admitted his own involvement" in the 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon "from the moment the agents began questioning" him, federal prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday.
The prosecution refuted the defense’s claims that such statements – made from Mr. Tsarnaev's hospital bed at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston in the hours after his arrest – are inadmissible in court because the federal agents had not informed him of his right to an attorney.
The defense charged, in a filing earlier this month, that prosecutors interrogated Tsarnaev for 36 hours while he was under the influence of painkillers and suffering from gunshot wounds, “despite the fact that he quickly allayed concerns about any continuing threat to public safety, repeatedly asked for a lawyer, and begged to rest.”
The prosecution maintains that investigators had reason to believe that there could still be imminent danger to the public in the days after Tsarnaev’s arrest.
“Finding out if there were other bombs, other bombers, or others plotting similar and coordinated attacks was a public safety matter of the utmost urgency,” the government's filing states.
The prosecution further insisted that “the length of the questioning was not designed to break down Tsarnaev’s will to resist so that he would confess,” but rather was necessitated by the suspect's need for frequent breaks and difficulty speaking due to a tracheostomy.
Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction, related to the April 15, 2013, bombings that killed three people and injured 260 others near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. If convicted, Tsarnaev could face the death penalty, though the defense has filed a motion requesting that the federal death penalty be declared unconstitutional in this case. The prosecution opposed that motion in a separate filing Wednesday.
Tsarnaev’s older brother and alleged accomplice, Tamerlan, was killed as a result of a gun battle in nearby Watertown, Mass., four days after the bombing. Tsarnaev was later arrested after spending several hours hiding in a boat in a Watertown backyard.
Prosecutors said a note scrawled inside the boat “bears hallmarks of al-Q’aeda-inspired rhetoric” and led agents to believe that the brothers may not have acted alone.
The full text of that note reads:
I’m jealous of my brother who ha[s] [re]ceived the reward of jannutul Firdaus (inshallah) before me. I do not mourn because his soul is very much alive. God has a plan for each person. Mine was to hide in this boat and shed some light on our actions. I ask Allah to make me a shahied (iA) to allow me to return to him and be among all the righteous people in the highest levels of heaven. He who Allah guides no one can misguide. A[llah Ak]bar!
The US Government is killing our innocent civilians but most of you already know that. As a [UI] I can’t stand to see such evil go unpunished, we Muslims are one body, you hurt one you hurt us all. Well at least that’s how muhhammad (pbuh) wanted it to be [for]ever, the ummah is beginning to rise/[UI] has awoken the mujahideen, know you are fighting men who look into the barrel of your gun and see heaven, now how can you compete with that. We are promised victory and we will surely get it. Now I don’t like killing innocent people it is forbidden in Islam but due to said [UI] it is allowed. All credit goes [UI].
Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop.
This report includes material from Reuters and the Associated Press.