DoJ, Tsarnaev plea-dealing for life imprisonment?
posted at 12:43 pm on April 30, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Somehow, I bet that the Department of Justice isn’t going to be happy that this leaked:
Preliminary talks have been under way “for the past few days” to allow Boston bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to resume providing investigators with information about the attacks in exchange for having the death penalty taken off the table, two government sources say.
Negotiations are in the very early stages, and not a sign lawyers for the 19-year-old suspect are ready to make a deal, said one source, who did not want to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the private discussions.
Allahpundit pointed out earlier that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s team just added Judy Clarke in an attempt to avoid the death penalty. What we didn’t know was how much the prosecution might want to cooperate with that effort. That might be the quickest payoff Clarke has ever delivered for a defendant.
Here’s the question, though — will Dzhokhar give the US anything valuable in exchange for avoiding the death penalty? Apparently the DoJ and FBI must think so, or else they wouldn’t have been pursuing a deal “for the past few days,” assuming that CNN’s report is accurate. If Dzhokhar is the only surviving member of the terrorist conspiracy, what good would his information be? The only way a quick deal on this basis makes sense is if federal investigators think there is a lot more to the Boston Marathon bombing than just a couple of disaffected refugees becoming “self-radicalized.” And since older brother and Dagestan traveler Tamerlan has been dead for more than a week, they must think that Dzhokhar has some contacts of his own to discuss.
We haven’t heard much about those students arrested ten days ago in New Bedford, have we? One of their lawyers spoke out over the weekend to distance his clients from Dzhokhar:
Two college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who were jailed by immigration authorities the day after his capture had nothing to do with the deadly attack and had seen no hints that he harbored any violent thoughts or terrorist sympathies, a lawyer for one of them said Friday.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, who are from Kazakhstan, were classmates with Tsarnaev at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. They appeared alongside him in a recent photograph of a group of young men visiting New York City’s Times Square. They were detained April 20 after being questioned in connection with the bombing, which had killed three people and injured more than 260 others a few days earlier.
“These kids are just as shocked and horrified about what happened as everyone else,” Kadyrbayev’s lawyer, Robert Stahl, said in a phone interview. “They can’t even fathom something like this from a kid who seemed to be a typical young college student.”
Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev have been interviewed at length, twice, by FBI agents and have cooperated fully, said Stahl, a former federal prosecutor. They are not suspects but are being held for violating their student visas by not regularly attending classes, Stahl said. They are being detained at a county jail in Boston.
And that may very well be the case. It seems as though the feds still think Dzhokhar has some valuable intel for them — again, assuming CNN has gotten this story right — and that sounds as though this was no amateur home-grown isolated incident after all.
If the government reaches a deal with Tsarnaev to avoid the death penalty, how will Boston react?
Update: CNN wasn’t the first to this story. The Daily Mail in the UK had it a few hours earlier, although they make it sound more clearly like a defense initiative:
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyer have started very early talks about a possible deal in which the 19-year-old would cooperate in exchange for avoiding the death penalty, according to legal sources.
His defence team got a major boost yesterday with the addition of a prominent anti-death penalty lawyer who has managed to get life sentences for several high-profile clients.
If this has been going on for “a few days,” though, they must have something — or someone, or someones — to give up that is of interest to the FBI and DoJ.