A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the bomb attack on the Boston Marathon, will be allowed to see autopsy photos of the victims.
The judge, George O’Toole of U.S. District Court in Boston, rejected a claim by the government that Tsarnaev should not see the photos because it would disturb the families of the victims.
The ruling came a year and a day after two bomb blasts killed three people and injured 264 near the marathon finish line. A police officer was killed in the ensuing manhunt.
Under court rules, lawyers for Tsarnaev are allowed to see the photos as they prepare a defense. The goverment sought a special restriction — that Tsarnaev himself not be allowed to see them unless the government offered them as evidence at trial.
The government argued in court papers that allowing Tsarnaev to see all the photos would subject marathon victims to “needless harm and suffering.”
The defense lawyers said they had never heard of such a restriction, and that decisions about what Tsarnaev can and can’t see are best left to his lawyers.
Tsarnaev was not in court for the hearing.
The judge also rejected a defense request to dismiss some of the criminal counts against Tsarnaev because they were duplicative and might prejudice the jury against him.
Tsarnaev, 20, goes on trial in November and could face the death penalty if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty to 30 criminal counts.
His brother, Tamerlan, was killed during a firefight with authorities four days after the blasts.
The next hearing for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is June 18.