Report: Bombing Suspect's Lawyers Negotiating Plea Deal to Waive Death Penalty
NBC News is reporting that attorneys for accused Boston Marathon Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are discussing a possible deal in which federal prosecutors might consider waiving the death penalty in exchange for a “full accounting” of the attack that left three people dead and 264 people injured.
Citing legal sources, correspondent Pete Williams reported on “NBC Nightly News” that prosecutors and lawyers for Tsarnaev “have begun very early discussions about a possible deal in which he could avoid the death penalty in return for a full accounting to the FBI of what happened and why as investigators continue working to find those answers for themselves.”
Dzhokhar was charged with federal terrorism offenses last week following a heated debate in which some prominent Republican lawmakers called for the suspect to be treated as an enemy combatant, which would have potentially given investigators more latitude to question him about other plots.
The suspect suffered multiple gunshot wounds before being taken into custody in a dramatic confrontation with police four days after he and his older brother, Tamerlan, reportedly detonated two bombs near the finish line of the famed race. The elder brother was subsequently killed in a shootout with police.
Meanwhile, Williams also reported that an FBI team conducted a search of the house where Tamerlan’s widow, Katherine Russell, has been living in Rhode Island since the attack.
While Russell has said she was shocked by the attack and had no idea her late husband was planning it, law enforcement officials took a sample of her DNA for comparison against a sample of female DNA found on a fragment of one of the pressure cooker bombs that exploded on April 15, according to Williams.
He cautioned, however, that the DNA may have come from employees at one of the stores where the parts for the bombs were purchased.
Attorney General Eric Holder on Saturday defended the decision to read the surviving suspect his Miranda rights, insisting that the decision was “totally consistent with the laws that we have.”
Early on April 22, U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler showed up at the hospital unannounced with a federal prosecutor and public defender while Tsarnaev was being questioned by the FBI.
“The decision to Mirandize was one that the magistrate made,” Holder told CNN as he arrived at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in Washington over the weekend.
Tsarnaev was under interrogation for about 16 hours when Bowler read him his Miranda rights, according to news reports. The FBI thought it had 36 to 48 hours to question Tsarnaev under the pre-Miranda public-safety exemption.