Coyne: Detrimental statement made by Tsarnaev overheard by FBI

In December and January, the sisters of accused marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev visited him at Federal Medical Center Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts, where’s he’s being held on terror charges and faces the death penalty.

But it’s what the 20 year old allegedly said during one of the visits in the presence of the FBI that has his defense team objecting, namely that he “was unable to temper his remarks and made a statement to his detriment which was overheard by the agent.”

Put in place in August are Special Administrative Measures, or SAMs, which allow FBI agents to be present as Tsarnaev has family visitors because of concerns his communications could put others at risk of death or serious injury.

In a federal court filing released Friday, we learned the agent “has admonished the sisters and Mr. Tsarnaev to speak only in English,” and that the agent has listened and taken notes.

“There’s something that the government now has to use that they didn’t have before. Now they may be overplaying their hand slightly just for dramatic effect to say, look what we’ve got as a result of the measures that we had put in place,” said legal analyst Michael Coyne, Associate Dean at Mass School of Law.

Coyne says the prison controls other inmates in this way, not just the accused marathon bomber.

“The walls have ears. There’s always someone listening to what we have to say. And the fact is, if he keeps making admissions or proceeding along these lines, he’s not going to need a good lawyer, he’s going to need a magician to get out of these charges,” Coyne said.

In a filing, his defense team asked that the SAMs be removed, saying they are unconstitutional and “in the circumstances of this case, SAMs are unlawful and unwarranted.”

The government said the defense’s motion “has nothing to do with the SAMs.”

And in a new filing tonight, the defense moved to dismiss surplus counts of the indictment, to go from 18 to 4 for the murder charges, saying “such proliferation of multiple capital charges arising from each alleged act appears designed to put a thumb on the scales of justice in favor of the death penalty.”

A trial date is set for November 3, though his attorneys have asked for a date a year after that.

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