The lawyer leading his defense, Miriam Conrad, is a Harvard Law grad who's represented unpopular defendants including "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Conrad — who's been a public defender for two decades — also represented 27-year-old Mulsim-American Rezwan Ferdaus, who got 17 years in prison after admitting he plotted to blow up the Pentagon and the Capitol.
Law professor Tamar R. Birckhead, who was a lawyer in Conrad's office, told the Journal that Conrad was doesn't suffer fools when defending her unpopular clients.
"Miriam is tough," Birckhead said. "She will provide the most rigorous dedicated defense humanly possible."
In an interview with Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly, Conrad gave some insight into why she makes a living representing hated defendants.
"If you scratch the surface, many have had difficult lives, and, as their lawyer, I sort of see them whole — not just as a person charged with a crime," she said in the interview. "No one has ever stood up for them, and that is a very powerful, emotional thing.”
Other lawyers currently on the team are public defenders Timothy Watkins and William Fick, who appeared in court on Tsarnaev's behalf on Monday. Despite the undeniable horror of the Boston Marathon bombing, that team may be able to elicit some sympathy for her 19-year-old defendant.
After the bombing, many of his former classmates at the elite Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School spoke out about his likability and generally good character. Relatives believe Dzhokhar's now-deceased 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan may have corrupted him.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction and could face the death penalty. Conrad's main task could be convincing a jury to spare his life.
On Monday, she filed a motion with the court asking it to appoint two additional lawyers with death penalty experience to help her out with the case.
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