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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19-years-old, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing is seen in this April 19, 2013 handout image.
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A judge ruled Wednesday that lawyers for accused Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could not meet with him and his sisters without federal agents present.

Tsarnaev’s attorneys argued they needed to understand Tsarnaev’s relationship with his family to build a case for why he should not be executed if convicted of the attacks, Reuters reports. They claimed that the presence of federal officers would prohibit normal conversation.

U.S. District Judge George O’Toole denied the request, and approved a proposal from federal prosecutors to bring in a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent from outside Boston to monitor the meetings in the prison.

Defense attorneys have asked for the trial—due to begin November—to be moved out of Boston, where two homemade bombs killed three people and injured 264 others. Lawyers fear pretrial publicity might prejudice any potential juror. The deadline for attorneys to argue for this request was Wednesday.

Tsarnaev, who is 20 years old, is the surviving brother in a pair who prosecutors say planted the bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was fatally shot in a gunfight with police three days after the attacks. The brothers are also accused of shooting a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer three days after the marathon. Tsarnaev has pled not guilty to charges.


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