Federal prosecutors say they don’t want Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the accused Boston Marathon bomber, to be able to review autopsy photographs of the people killed in the bombing, except for the photos offered as exhibits at his trial.
The prosecutors say that allowing Tsarnaev to see the photos would “violate the victims’ rights to dignity and privacy and subject them to needless harm and suffering.”
“Specifically, allowing photos of the mutilated bodies of the victims to be viewed by the man accused of mutilating them would needlessly revictimize the family members in the same way that innocent children who are photographed pornographically are revictimized whenever those photos are seen by others,” prosecutors said in a six-page filing in US District Court today.
The prosecutors acknowledged that Tsarnaev has the right to review evidence in the trial, but they asked that the court issue an order preventing him from viewing any photos that will not be used at the trial or sentencing. The order would not apply to Tsarnaev’s attorneys.
“Here, as in other cases where a defendant has no need personally to review sensitive or classified evidence that will not be used against him, the Court has the power to fashion an appropriate order that will safeguard the defendant’s rights without needlessly risking harm to others,” the prosecutors argued.
Tsarnaev, 20, faces a 30-count federal indictment alleging that he set off the April 15, 2013, terror bombs near the Marathon finish line that killed three people and injured more than 260 people.
Tsarnaev and his late brother, Tamerlan, 26, were also accused in the fatal shooting of an MIT police officer several days after the bombings. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also faces state charges in that case.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a confrontation with police in Watertown; later the same day, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured.
Prosecutors have decided to seek the death penalty, though a jury will ultimately decide whether that sentence is imposed, if Tsarnaev is convicted.
US District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. has set a November trial date. The judge also set an April 16 hearing to hear several outstanding issues, including a request by Tsarnaev’s lawyers to loosen some of the special restrictions that have been placed on him at the federal prison at Fort Devens in Ayer.