Court Begins Unsealing Documents In Tsarnaev Case

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In this May 2015 courtroom sketch, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (center) stood with his defense attorneys as his death sentence was read in federal court in Boston. (Jane Flavell Collins via AP)
In this May 2015 courtroom sketch, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (center) stood with his defense attorneys as his death sentence was read in federal court in Boston. (Jane Flavell Collins via AP)

Hundreds of sealed documents in the Boston Marathon bombing were made public Wednesday — more than seven months after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death for the 2013 attack.

Of the more than 600 documents made public Wednesday, the most fascinating items describe what happened the night Tsarnaev was captured and brought to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Prosecutors pressed Tsarnaev for several hours while he was in the hospital out of concern that there may have been more bombs planted. Federal officials sought an exemption from the Miranda rule. In other words, Tsarnaev wouldn’t be read his Miranda rights because of a public safety emergency.

Tsarnaev couldn’t speak due to his injuries and communicated with investigators by writing notes as he was handcuffed to a hospital bed.

In a motion to suppress Tsarnaev’s statements, defense attorneys argued that his statements were made involuntarily. They said Tsarnaev was suffering multiple gunshot wounds, including a severe head injury, and had been prescribed multiple pain medications. Tsarnaev asked for an attorney 10 times while he was being questioned, according to the document. His requests were ignored and he did not have an attorney present.

Tsarnaev was interrogated once for 12 hours and another time for 15 hours, with breaks. The document shows the FBI did not record either of the two sessions.

Investigators also falsely told Tsarnaev that his brother Tamerlan was alive while they questioned him, according to the defense document. He wrote multiple notes asking if his brother was alive.

Tsarnaev was convicted last year of all 30 charges against him for carrying out the bombing with his brother, as well as the death of MIT officer Sean Collier days later. The bombings left three dead and injured more than 260. Tamerlan was killed during a shootout with police in Watertown.

Of the 1,627 documents filed in the case, most have been under seal. Judge George O’Toole ordered the unsealing of the documents Tuesday evening, after prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to make the materials public. The documents unsealed Wednesday include orders, motions and exhibits.

There are still documents under seal. O’Toole said the court would move “as expeditiously as practicable” to make public all the sealed documents in the case. People on both sides of the case say the remaining documents will likely contain more revealing information.

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