Bella Tsarnaeva, sister of Boston Marathon bombings suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, faces drugs charge in New Jersey.
Bella Tsarnaeva, 24, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to possession of ma****ana with intent to distribute.
She was arrested in December 2012 after police responded to her Fairview home on a domestic violence report and found ma****ana, according to court papers. Authorities said they had first found her live-in boyfriend, Ahmad Khalil, at the apartment, which they searched after smelling marijuana.
Both Bella Tsarnaeva and Ahmad Khalil were indicted on April 10 with possession of ma****ana with intent to distribute.
They declined to comment on Tuesday after their arraignment in Superior Court, where their attorneys entered not-guilty pleas on their behalves.
Bella Tsarnaeva’s attorney, Mario Blanch, said he has applied for her to be admitted into a pretrial intervention program, a form of probation that allows certain defendants to resolve their cases without a criminal record.
Bella Tsarnaeva later left the building, her head wrapped in Ahmad Khalil’s shirt to shield her from a photographer. Mario Blanch said Bella Tsarnaeva did not want to be photographed because people are already recognizing her on the streets and that she has even received death threats for what her brothers are accused of doing.
“She is a young woman, 24 years old, and through no fault of her own, she has been thrust into a public spotlight,” said her attorney Mario Blanch to North Jersey.com.
“This has been a huge tragedy for this country, and it has also been a huge tragedy for my client.”
The investigation extended into North Jersey within a few days after the Boston Marathon bombing when federal agents showed up at the West New York home of another sister, 22-year-old Ailina Tsarnaeva. The agents interviewed the woman for several hours and left with computers, cell phones and plastic bags full of items. West New York police later said the woman was cooperating with authorities.
Meanwhile, lawyers for her brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are set to blame the “overpowering influence” of elder brother Tamerlan, said Harvey Silverglate, a civil liberties and defense attorney.
According to Harvey Silvergate, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers will cite Tamerlan as being “an embittered and dangerous character, and it is well known that older siblings have tremendous power over younger siblings”.
One of the teenage bombers attorney is Judy Clarke, who represented “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski and 1996 Atlanta Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph – in both cases using mental health as a defense.