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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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April 20th, 2013
06:03 PM ET

Why Miranda rights matter for Boston bombing suspect

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured alive Friday night. Now, the government is trying to figure out how to bring him to justice. Overnight, a legal debate erupted over the decision to hold off on reading Tsarnaev his Miranda rights.

"As soon as they Mirandize him, and they give him the right to a lawyer, they know they can use those statements against him in court," said Beth Wilkinson, a former prosecutor who helped send Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh to the death penalty.

"If they don't do that, they're going to have a very tough time using any evidence they collect from him before that time in court," added Wilkinson.

The Obama administration likely wants to know as much as they can about how the Boston terrorist attack happened, to ensure it does not happen again. If the suspect is read his Miranda rights, he may be advised to not co-operate, and remain silent.

Federal officials are using the public safety exception to hold off on reading Tsarnaev his Miranda rights, an exception used to protect Americans, to ensure there are no other accomplices, or any other direct and immediate threats.

But it is important to Mirandize him to make sure that all the evidence collected against the suspect can be used in a courtroom.

"It is in the interest - I think - of the country to be able to prosecute him in a public courtroom and have people understand what happened," said Wilkinson.

Bringing Tsarnaev to justice cannot happen behind closed doors.

"There are going to be many victims, survivors, who feel it is very important to have that moment in court, to try to understand what happened in this horrific situation."

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