Boston Bombing News: The Defense Motions to Suppress

Defense Motion 297 argues that some evidence obtained from searches of Dzhokhar’s dorm room and Tamerlan’s apartment is inadmissible because of improper framing and execution of warrants. They cite overly-broad lists; items seized (beautician manuals, pizza receipts) which exceeded the parameters of the warrants; and a warrantless search done in June.

Explosives? A July warrant specifies reddish-brown powder allegedly found on the window sill of Dzhokhar’s dorm room, along with a pyrotechnic. This warrant claimed that the powder was observed in April; but “Reports regarding the April 21 search do not mention the powder. The Evidence Recovery Team casebook twice states that the room was reviewed by a chemist ‘for potential areas for swabbing. None were located.’ “

In May, a second warrant was executed for the Norfolk Street apartment. Among the items sought was “low explosive powder,” although “swabs taken during the April 19 search yielded no residue.”

Also sought were “shoes consistent with the individual present in the fireworks store in Seabrook, NH in February 2013.” The prosecution’s interest in fireworks is puzzling in light of the statement of the American Pyrotechnics Association: the devices bought in Seabook contained only minimal amounts of explosive material, and were not suitable to create the bombs that did so much damage at the Marathon.

Pressure cookers? The warrant for the May search at Norfolk Street cited kitchen appliances purchased at a Macy’s in February 2013, and male and/or female clothing consistent with clothing worn by the two people who bought these appliances. The purchased items apparently were a colander and two frying pans … The July warrant for the dorm room expresses a desire to find receipts for pressure cookers. Were any found? We don’t know.

Defense Motion 295 argues that all statements made by Dzhokhar in the hospital are inadmissible, as they violate Miranda; and that even his early statements, extracted in the interest of public safety, should be suppressed. A footnote states that the prosecution will not use these statements in its case-in-chief, but reserves the right to use them as rebuttal, and “has declined to disavow reliance on Quarles.”

The Quarles ruling upholds (in the interest of public safety) the admissibility of statements made moments after arrest. Defense argues that Quarles does not apply, because by the time Dzhokhar was interrogated, Tamerlan was dead and all residences and vehicles had been thoroughly vetted for the presence of bombs. “Whatever emergent circumstances might have existed had largely, if not completely, dissipated.”

The Confession? We have already been aware of the existence of the hospital confession, and should not be surprised that the defense is taking all possible measures to deal with it.

This motion provides shocking details of the interrogation. Dzhokhar was drugged with a powerful narcotic cocktail. He was handcuffed to the bed, his jaw was wired shut, and he had a traumatic brain injury. He wrote notes in response to questions. His cognitive faculties were obviously compromised. He began by writing his address incorrectly. He gave inconsistent answers, and some of his writing is illegible. He begged repeatedly for a lawyer and for a chance to rest and sleep. Defense notes: “It is hard to ascertain exactly what questions the agents posed.”

While in this condition, he apparently assured the agents that there were no more bombs and no public danger. Did he say “Yes, we blew up the Marathon, but we don’t have any more bombs”? Did he respond to repeated questioning with vague phrases like “No more bombs, I’m not dangerous”? In his confused state, was he talking about smoke bombs or pyrotechnics? 

Although it isn’t mentioned here, it has been claimed that the brothers planned to blow up Times Square. Dzhokhar originally told the agents he was going to New York “to party.” But they worked on him until he said “going to New York to bomb it.” And this, I presume, was the general tone of the interview. Power of suggestion on a frightened, confused and and drugged individual.

I recall a comment on an efbeall thread, after we first found out that Dzhokhar had been injected with Dilaudid: “I was on Dilaudid once, and I would have confessed to killing Kennedy if you had asked me.”

Dzhokhar was questioned by a “High Value Interrogation Team.” Techniques routinely used by these guys include: Isolation; Monopolization of Perception (e.g. restricted movement); Induced Debilitation and Exhaustion (exploitation of wounds, sleep deprivation, prolonged interrogation, prolonged constraint, and forced writing); Threats (including threats against family). (Thanks to TBMB Weebly for this.)

The boat-note clearly states that Tamerlan is in Paradise. If he wrote this, Dzhokhar knew or believed that his brother was dead. However, in the hospital he wrote: “Is my brother alive I know you said he is are you lying is he alive? Where is my bro?” (Why did they tell him Tamerlan was alive? Do “Threats” enter into this at all?)

One more comment, not related to the motions: Barbara recently reported that in Jeff Bauman’s book, Tamerlan is described as wearing a white hat. She saw it in a Kindle version. I found this so unbelievable, that I went to a bookstore to look at the print version. Yep, it’s there. First bomb site, heavy hooded jacket, sunglasses, white hat worn frontwards. Excerpted versions on the internet leave out the word “white,” but it is clearly there in print. Is this incredibly sloppy editing, or the truth as Bauman saw it? It seems at least possible that the guy who Bauman perceived to be staring at him so coldly and evilly, was not Tamerlan.

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