Thomson Reuters; April 22, 2013
As the top federal law enforcer in Massachusetts, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz has taken heat for being tough to a fault and coming down too hard on some defendants.
But as she builds a possible death penalty case against suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, the unflinching approach that earned her opponents in the past could become a legal asset for the biggest case of her career, said attorneys who have faced off against her.
"The criticism lately has been that they've over-charged some people and been overly harsh," said Peter Elikann, a Boston defense attorney. "I don't think that's relevant for Tsarnaev because no one is going to accuse any prosecutor of making too big a deal out of this case."
Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, 26, are suspected of setting off bombs at the crowded finish line of the marathon on Monday, killing three people and injuring more than 170.
Tsarnaev was arrested late on Friday after a manhunt that shut down parts of Boston. He is hospitalized and under guard. His older brother died after a shootout with police.
Ortiz's office, which is leading the investigation, has not given a firm timetable for charges. Ortiz, 57, did not respond to questions sent via a spokeswoman.
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley told CNN on Sunday it was likely "most if not all the charges will be federal." Tsarnaev could face murder and other state charges.
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