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Questions surround decisions to interrogate bombing suspect without a lawyer

Posted: April 26, 2013 - 12:05am

WASHINGTON — The hospital-room questioning of the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings is generating concern about whether he should have been interrogated without first being told of his constitutional rights to silence and a lawyer — and, conversely, whether federal agents actually should have had more time with him before he was read his rights.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faced 16 hours of questioning before he was advised of his Miranda rights, and investigators say he told them of his role in the two bombings near the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15. He explained that he and his brother, Tamerlan, were angry about the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the killing of Muslims there, officials said.

In Boston, federal agents invoked an exception to the Miranda warnings that allows for questioning when public safety may be threatened. But they knew their time with Tsarnaev in the absence of a lawyer would be limited.

On Sunday, prosecutors filed a criminal complaint charging Tsarnaev with a role in the bombings. That action led directly to the improvised court hearing in the hospital the following morning at which U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler told Tsarnaev he did not have to answer questions and could have a lawyer.

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