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May 15, 2013

Lawyer: Tsarnaev’s widow to cooperate

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A new criminal defense lawyer for the widow of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev says his client will continue to cooperate with investigators but says he plans to keep quiet about the details of her case publicly because that could hurt the investigation.

New York lawyer Joshua Dratel, who has represented several terrorism suspects, joined Katherine Russell’s legal team last week. He joins two Rhode Island-based lawyers who typically focus on civil cases.

Russell hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing, but she is under intense scrutiny by the FBI as it investigates the deadly April 15 bombing, which killed three people and injured more than 260. Authorities say the attack was carried out by her husband and his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Dratel told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he joined Russell’s legal team because Russell needed someone who could navigate the criminal justice system and to protect her interests.He said she had spoken with investigators and planned to keep cooperating.

“I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future,” he said. “There’s no inconsistency between that and her interests at this point.”

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is in a prison hospital facing charges that could bring the death penalty. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died April 19 after a shootout with police.

Russell, 24, had been living in Cambridge, Mass., with her husband and 2-year-old daughter, but has been staying with her parents in North Kingstown, R.I., since the day her husband was killed. She has reverted to using her maiden name, switching from her married name of Tsarnaeva.

Among the questions about Russell is what she knew or saw in the weeks leading up to the bombing, and in the days after it. Two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have told the AP that Dzhokhar told investigators the bombs were assembled in the small apartment Russell shared with her husband. One of her Rhode Island lawyers has previously said she was working long hours and was frequently away from the apartment.

Dratel would not discuss details of Russell’s life or relationship with her husband, and would not be specific when asked about her contact with federal investigators, such as when she had spoken with them. He said in his experience, investigators do not want people speaking to the media and publicizing what they are focusing on.

“It would be counterproductive for the investigation and for Katherine’s interests for us to be more forthcoming at this time with any of the details,” he said. “We wouldn’t want to impair the investigation in any way.”

The sole focus of Russell and her legal team, he said, was on the investigation.

“It’s a fluid situation,” Dratel said. “We’re not at the end of it.”

 

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