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Judge nixes Tsarnaev lawyers' photo request

This undated photo found on the VK page

This undated photo found on the VK page of Dias Kadyrbayev shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, at an unknown location. Credit: AP

BOSTON -- A federal judge Friday rejected a request from attorneys for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to take photos of him in prison.

Tsarnaev's legal team wanted to take the pictures to show changes in his condition, both mental and physical, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler ruled that authorities at the prison will instead take the photos, then provide them to defense lawyers and prosecutors.

In her decision, Bowler said the Fort Devens prison where Tsarnaev is being held and treated for injuries does not allow visitors or lawyers to bring cameras inside. She rejected the request from Tsarnaev's lawyers that they be granted an exception to the rule. "The defendant contends that his 'injuries over time' provide evidence of 'his evolving mental and physical state' which, in turn, is probative of 'the voluntariness of [his] statements and sentence mitigation arguments,' " Bowler wrote in her decision.

Tsarnaev's legal team requested permission in a motion filed May 7, which they sought to have sealed and kept secret from prosecutors and the public, court records show.

Bowler wrote that prison officials had offered to take the photos, and she agreed to that compromise. She also said defense lawyers can be present when the pictures are taken.

Despite the defense team's argument that the photographs should be kept from prosecutors because they are part of the team's "work product," Bowler ruled they would be shared with the government.

The photos could be used to challenge whether Tsarnaev was emotionally and physically fit enough to talk to interrogators following his capture -- and whether he did so voluntarily.

The pictures could also be used in "mitigation arguments" against the death penalty, the records show.

Tsarnaev, 19, is charged in the April 15 bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260. His suspected accomplice and older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a confrontation with police days after the bombings.

Also Friday, federal prosecutors said they would not indict Tsarnaev within the 30 day deadline prescribed by speedy trial rules. U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz's office did not say which exception they would cite in their request for an extension.

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