Will Tsarnaev Use Mental Illness Defense In Marathon Bombing Case?


Nearly a year since police officers found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a suburban Boston backyard, hiding in a boat there, wounded by gunfire, he awaits a November trial on charges of taking part in the Boston Marathon bombing. He get many cards and letters in prison from backers who believe he is innocent, reports the New York Times. A federal court has given the two sides 19 months to prepare for a trial that the prosecution says could last three months.

Prosecutors argue that Tsarnaev poses a terrorist because he conspired to kill Americans, used Al Qaeda's bomb-making instructions as a blueprint, shows no remorse and could have still-unknown conspirators awaiting a coded call to action. Ater his capture, “Tsarnaev reaffirmed his commitment to jihad and expressed hope that his actions would inspire others to engage in violent jihad,” the Justice Department stated in a court filing in August. Defense lawyers assert that prosecutors have offered no evidence that Tsarnaev is part of a foreign jihad network. The defense's hiring of a mental health consultant may hint at an argument that he was mentally ill — and perhaps that he fell under the sway of his aggressive older brother, Tamerlan. Prosecutors have asked the defense to disclose whether it plans to present evidence at the trial that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had a mental ailment.

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