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April 20, 2013

Boston bomb suspect hospitalized under heavy guard

BOSTON —

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lay hospitalized in serious condition under heavy guard Saturday — apparently in no shape to be interrogated — as investigators tried to establish the motive for the deadly attack and the scope of the plot.

People across the Boston area breathed easier the morning after Tsarnaev, 19, was pulled, wounded and bloody, from a tarp-covered boat in a Watertown backyard. The capture came at the end of a tense day that began with his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, dying in a gunbattle with police.

There was no immediate word on when Tsarnaev might be charged and what those charges would be.

The most serious charge available to federal prosecutors would be the use of a weapon of mass destruction to kill people, which carries a possible death sentence. Massachusetts does not have the death penalty.

President Barack Obama said there are many unanswered questions about the bombing, including whether the Tsarnaev brothers — ethnic Chechens from southern Russia who had been in the U.S. for about a decade and lived in the Boston area — had help from others. The president urged people not to rush judgment about their motivations.

U.S. officials said an elite interrogation team would question the Massachusetts college student without reading him his Miranda rights, something that is allowed on a limited basis in cases where the public is in immediate danger.

The American Civil Liberties Union expressed concern about that possibility. Executive Director Anthony Romero said the legal exception applies only when there is a continued threat to public safety and is "not an open-ended exception" to the Miranda rule, which guarantees the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.

The federal public defender's office in Massachusetts said it has agreed to represent Tsarnaev once he is charged. Miriam Conrad, public defender for Massachusetts, said he should have a lawyer appointed as soon as possible because there are "serious issues regarding possible interrogation."

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