Dzhokhar Tsarnaev defense focuses blame on brother

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s defense team is seeking to avoid the death penalty, and most of their focus seems banked on proving that his elder brother, Tamerlan, as the instigator of the Boston Bombing. If they are able to provide enough evidence to support their claim they hope to tilt the jury in favor of a lesser punishment.

During the court filing Tsarnaev’s lawyers said that they believe Tsarnaev was under pressure from his elder brother. In fact, they say that his brother was under pressure himself, from the FBI. “We base this on information from our client’s family and other sources that the FBI made more than one visit to talk with Anzor [his father], Zubeidat [his mother] and Tamerlan, questioned Tamerlan about his Internet searches, and asked him to be an informant, reporting on the Chechen and Muslim community.”

Tamerlan died during the events on April 15 last year, so the challenge comes on sorting speculation from reality. “The underlying data concerning the brothers’ activities, state of mind, and respective trajectories is critical,” the defense said. “Evidence that shows Tamerlan to have had a substantially longer and deeper engagement than his younger brother with extremist and violent ideology is mitigating for the light that it sheds on their relative culpability.”

Along with information on the FBI’s visits to the Tsarnaev family, his lawyers are seeking the prosecution’s record of internet searches and information gathered from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The defense plans to stress Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s age at the time of the bombings, 19-years, along with his lack of a criminal record. The now 20-year-old faces a 30-count indictment in his alleged role in the bombings. The bombing killed three people and injured more than 260, and he also allegedly shot and killed an MIT police officer while with Tamerlan before the confrontation with police in Watertown.

Currently Tsarnaev is being kept in “near total isolation”, though restrictions were recently eased. His only contact is with his attorneys, a mental health consultant, a mitigation specialist, and a paralegal.