State arrest warrant issued for marathon suspect

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Photo / AP
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Photo / AP

A Massachusetts court issued an arrest warrant Monday for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as prosecutors sought to preserve their right to try him on state charges in the killing of a police officer for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Tsarnaev, 20, remains in custody after pleading not guilty to 30 federal charges stemming from the April 15 explosions, which killed three people and injured more than 260.

State prosecutors sought a default warrant a type of arrest warrant because U.S. marshals have said they won't bring Tsarnaev to state court until his federal case concludes.

A magistrate issued the warrant the day Tsarnaev was scheduled to be arraigned on state charges. The step was largely procedural to preserve the state's right to try him in the death of MIT officer Sean Collier and charges stemming from a shootout with Watertown police as he allegedly tried to escape.

"The defendant has a right to a speedy arraignment and trial on the state charges. The Commonwealth has taken steps necessary to begin that process by requesting of the U.S. Marshal that the defendant be brought to Middlesex Superior Court for arraignment on these charges," Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a statement.

Because federal marshals will not bring Tsarnaev to state court until the federal case is over, prosecutors decided to seek a default warrant to keep the state case open, Ryan said.

Tsarnaev's lawyer on the state charges, John Salsberg, was not in court and could not immediately be reached. A message was left at his office.

Federal prosecutors say Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, built two pressure cooker bombs and placed them near the finish line of the marathon. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following the shootout with police four days after the bombings.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction and 16 other charges that carry the possibility of the death penalty.

Collier was shot and killed hours after the FBI released photos and video of the Tsarnaev brothers as suspects in the bombing.

- AP

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