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Case against accused Boston bomber advanced by local prosecutors

A photograph of Djohar Tsarnaev, who is believed to be Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, is seen on his page of Russian social networking site Vkontakte (VK), as pictured on a monitor in St. Petersburg April 19, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk
A photograph of Djohar Tsarnaev, who is believed to be Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, is seen on his page of Russian social networking site Vkontakte (VK), as pictured on a monitor in St. Petersburg April 19, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk

BOSTON (Reuters) - Local prosecutors in Massachusetts on Monday moved a step toward bringing charges against accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the murder of a university police officer three days after the bombing attack.

Middlesex County Superior Court Clerk-Magistrate Michael Sullivan ordered that a default warrant be issued to Tsarnaev, which would require the 20-year-old ethnic Chechen to appear in court to face charges related to the April 18 shooting death of Sean Collier, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer.

Tsarnaev and his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, were accused of shooting dead Collier in Cambridge, Massachusetts, three days after killing three people and wounding 264 with twin homemade pressure-cooker bombs. The two made an unsuccessful attempt to steal Collier's gun before fleeing.

The pair went on to engage in a late-night gun battle with police in nearby Watertown that ended with Tamerlan dead and Dzhokhar escaping, prompting a day-long lockdown of most of the Boston area that ended when police found him hiding in a dry-docked boat.

The surviving Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to federal charges related to the April 15 bombing as well as Collier's death. If convicted on those charges, he could face execution.

Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a statement that Tsarnaev, who is in federal custody awaiting trial, is not likely to be presented at the county court until after the federal case is resolved.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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