Lawyers spar over prison restrictions for marathon bomber

BOSTON (AP) — Prosecutors and lawyers for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are sparring over whether an agreement that allowed a loosening of communications restrictions on Tsarnaev in prison should continue now that he has been convicted and sentenced to death.

After Tsarnaev was charged in the deadly 2013 bombing, his communications with the outside world were sharply limited, materials shown to him by his lawyers were inspected by prison officials and his visits with his lawyers were monitored.

In 2014, Tsarnaev’s lawyers complained that the measures were so restrictive they impeded their ability to prepare his defense. The “special administrative measures” put in place for Tsarnaev have also been used in other terror cases and are designed to prevent suspects from communicating with others to incite violence.

Under an agreement between both sides, some restrictions were loosened. Prosecutors argue that the agreement is now “obsolete and unnecessary.”

Tsarnaev’s lawyers objected, arguing in court documents unsealed this week that the agreement was accepted by Judge George O’Toole Jr. and prosecutors cannot “unilaterally terminate” it. The lawyers say prosecutors should not be allowed to obtain details about information shared between them and Tsarnaev while he was awaiting trial or going forward as they prepare his appeal.

“The prosecution team has no right to know the details of every defense team visit with Mr. Tsarnaev nor the contents of materials the defense team is reviewing with Mr. Tsarnaev. The Agreement protects this work product,” Tsarnaev’s lawyers wrote.

Prosecutors, however, say they are entitled to review the records.

“The records in question are not privileged, confidential or work product. They are, on the contrary, records that are routinely obtained by prosecutors either automatically or upon request,” Assistant U.S. Attorney William Weinreb argued in court documents. “Tsarnaev is essentially asking this court to apply different rules to him than apply to the other 200,000-plus inmates in federal custody.

The judge has not indicated whether he will hold a hearing on the defense request.

Three people were killed and more than 260 others were injured when Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, planted two bombs near the finish line of the marathon. The brothers also killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer days later during a getaway attempt.

Tsarnaev, now 22, is being held at the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, the nation’s most secure federal prison.

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