Prosecutors Don’t Want Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to See Photos of Bombing Victims

They submitted a motion to keep the alleged suspect from having access to the images.

Prosecutors have filed a special request for a protective order to prohibit Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from seeing the disturbing photos of the three victims killed at the finish line last April.

According to documents filed in District Court on Monday, March 17, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, led by Carmen Ortiz, argued that Tsarnaev should not be allowed to view the images, claiming it would “violate the victims’ rights to dignity and privacy” and force their family members to relive the emotional turmoil caused by the bombing, subjecting them to “needless harm and suffering.”

“Allowing photos of the mutilated bodies of the victims to be viewed by the man accused of mutilating them would needlessly re-victimize the family members in the same way that innocent children who are photographed pornographically are re-victimized whenever those photos are seen by others,” prosecutors wrote in the court filing, which can be read in its entirety below.

Officials said they understand that Tsarnaev will need to view some documents being used against him in court, but autopsy photos of Krystle Marie Campbell, Lingzi Lu, Martin Richard, and Sean Collier should not be allowed.

“To be clear, the government is not seeking to prevent Tsarnaev’s attorneys from reviewing and copying any of the autopsy photos, which have been available for their inspection and review at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, or from allowing Tsarnaev to review personally any photos that will actually be used against him at trial or sentencing. The government maintains, however, that Tsarnaev has no need to review [them],” federal prosecutors wrote.

Tsanraev’s defense team has been fighting against limitations to access of the photos, and has made attempts to get copies of the originals. U.S. attorneys, however, have only made them available to Tsarnaev’s counsel at their offices.

“Allowing Tsarnaev the unrestricted right to review all of them is completely unnecessary [to the case],” prosecutors said in the six-page filing.

A trial date for Tsarneav has been set for November. He faces 30 charges—17 of which are punishable by death—including conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, using a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, and possession of a firearm. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the suspect in this case. Tsarnaev’s next scheduled appearance in court is in April, one day after the anniversary of the Marathon attack.

Tsarnaev Document


Steve Annear Steve Annear, Digital Writer at Boston Magazine sannear@bostonmagazine.com