Bomber's Widow May Have Spousal Legal Protections - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

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Bomber's Widow May Have Spousal Legal Protections

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By ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

mcurtis@abc6.com 

Katherine Russell – widow of Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev – may never have to testify.

Even though her husband is dead, she may invoke what's known as "spousal privilege" - a legal term that allows one spouse "not" to testify about the other's activities.

Attorney Ken Schreiber says she could also refuse to testify altogether, if it could get her in trouble.

"And if she's going to make statements that are going to incriminate herself, then she is probably going to be advised not to say anything, at all. And assert what is known as her 5th amendment right," said Schreiber.

Russell's attorneys say she is cooperating with federal investigators and had no knowledge of the bombing plot.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "One of the critical moments in this case was a cell phone call Katherine Russell made to her husband – and perhaps be extension his brother, the night there photographs were first put on TV and they were named as bombing suspects."

While Russell might have not have to testify about what she told her husband, she can't invoke spousal privilege, if she also urged his brother to flee police.

Legal analyst Larry Signore said, "If she knows the brothers are together, hearing the communication – one half of the communication – then the court may find that there is no confidentiality in that communication. (Q: So if Johar, her brother–in–law, said something incriminating, she might have to disclose it?) Yes."

Both attorneys agree that Russell retaining a criminal defense attorney is a smart move, but does not mean that she will be arrested.

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