San Diego-based attorney Judy Clarke to represent Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Clarke considered prominent death penalty lawyer

SAN DIEGO - A San Diego attorney will on the defense team representing Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Judy Clarke has more than 35 years of legal experience and has been called a "one-woman dream team," previously representing several high-profile defendants, including Susan Smith, al Qaida terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski and Jared Loughner.

On Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler denied a request from Tsarnaev's public defender to appoint a second death penalty lawyer, Clarke and Washington and Lee University School of Law professor David I. Bruck. Bowler said Tsarnaev's lawyers could renew their motion to appoint another death penalty expert if Tsarnaev is indicted.

The 19-year-old Tsarnaev has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction during the April 15 marathon. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured when two bombs exploded near the finish line.

His brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan, was killed during a confrontation with law enforcement in Watertown, Mass., days after the bombing.

Clarke once headed up San Diego's Federal Defender's Office, and local attorney Gretchen von Helms worked under Clarke in the 1990s. She said she wasn't surprised to hear that her former boss will once again be thrust into the national spotlight.

"She is a brilliant attorney … This really is a case where the world's attention will be on how does America treat suspects accused of heinous crimes. Do we lock them up and beat them? No, we take them through a fair and just legal process. And she will do her job to make sure that happens," said von Helms.

The state of Massachusetts does not have the death penalty, but the federal government does.

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