Tsarnaev's lawyers argue for easing of prison restrictions - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Tsarnaev's lawyers request easing of prison restrictions, Waltham murder docs

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BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com/AP) - Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appeared in court Tuesday to ask a judge to ease restrictions placed on him in prison as he awaits trial.

Tsarnaev's lawyers claim that so-called "special administrative measures" are impairing their ability to defend him. The measures are often used in terrorism cases and restrict access to the mail, the media, the telephone and visitors.

In court Tuesday, the government argued in favor of keeping the restrictions, but added that they are "open to negotiation."

The defense also argued that the government is withholding information, specifically information related to a 2011 triple murder in Waltham. According to court documents filed in October, a friend of Dzhokhar's brother, Tamerlan, implicated the deceased bombing suspect in the homicide.

Prosecutors said the Waltham murders were still under investigation by the Middlesex District Attorney's office and handing over information would jeopardize the case. They also said the government has produced virtually all material evidence, in some cases giving the defense entire reports. The prosecution added that the defense has no argument, since they first claimed they were overwhelmed by discovery and then said they wanted information related to the Waltham murders.

Several important deadlines were also set in court Tuesday.The U.S. Attorney's office is expected to hand in its recommendation on whether or not to seek the death penalty to Attorney General Eric Holder by the end of the week. Holder, in turn, is expected to make his final decision by the end of January.

The defense must also file any motion to change the venue of the trial by February 28.

While setting deadlines, Judge George O'Toole suggested setting a trial date and then working backwards to set other dates. The government requested a trial date in the fall of 2014, but the defense argued against it. The defense claimed a fall 2014 date is a "rocket schedule" for a case of this magnitude.

Prosecutors said they expect the trial to last 90 days, plus an additional 60 if they pursue the death penalty.

A status conference was scheduled for Feb. 12, 2014.

Tsarnaev is accused in twin bombings near the finish line of the April 15 marathon. Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured.

Authorities allege that he and his brother, Tamerlan, built and planted the bombs. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died four days after the marathon following a gun battle with police.

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