BOSTON -- Relatives in Russia of the convicted Boston Marathon bomber wanted him to fire his defense team, including the lead attorney, despite her sterling reputation defending notorious clients facing the death penalty.
Three of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's family members made the remarks to TIME magazine on Tuesday, a day before the second anniversary of the double bombing by Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Tsarnaev's aunt criticized attorney Judy Clarke for saying during opening statements and closing arguments in Tsarnaev's ongoing federal trial in Boston that he was to blame for the attack that killed three people and wounded another 264, including 16 who lost at least one leg.
“Why do we even need defense attorneys if they just tell the jury he is guilty?” Maret Tsarnaeva said to TIME. “What’s the point?”
The defense has argued that the now-deceased Tamerlan, 26, masterminded the plot and manipulated Dzhokhar into participating in the attack. Their hope, it's believed, is that the jury of seven women and five men will sentence the 21-year-old to life in prison rather than death row.
TIME reported that the relatives urged Tsarnaev to dismiss his team of public defenders Read their complete article here.
On April 8, the jury convicted Tsarnaev of 30 counts stemming from the bombing, the assassination of police officer Sean Collier and the shootout with police that led to Tamerlan's killing and Dzhokhar's capture in Watertown Massachusetts.
The family members speaking to TIME expressed disbelief that the brothers committed the crime and raised the allegation that they were framed by the American government. Other relatives including Dzhokhar's mother have uttered similar conspiracy theories, though uncles living in the United States have denounced the attacks.
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The conviction sets the stage for the penalty phase of the trial, beginning on April 21, in which the same jurors will decide whether Tsarnaev joins 61 other inmates awaiting execution for federal crimes. If they fail to reach a unanimous verdict, Tsarnaev automatically gets a life sentence.
Many experts believe that in capital trials, defendants can have no one better than Judy Clarke to argue their case. She secured life sentences for Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber; Jared Loughner, the gunman who shot Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; and Susan Smith, a mother who drowned her sons in a car.
Tsarnaev's attorney did not respond to messages from The Huffington Post.