Tsarnaev lawyers to ask higher court to move bombing trial

Author: Associated Press
Published: Updated:
MGN Online

BOSTON (AP) – Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have asked a judge three times to move his trial out of Massachusetts because of the emotional impact of the deadly attack. Three times, the judge has refused.

On Thursday, Tsarnaev’s defense team will ask a federal appeals court to take the decision out of the hands of Judge George O’Toole Jr. and order him to move the trial. They insist that Tsarnaev cannot find a fair and impartial jury in Massachusetts because too many people believe he’s guilty and many have personal connections to the marathon or the bombings.

Prosecutors are just as insistent that Tsarnaev can get a fair trial in the state.

A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear oral arguments Thursday morning.

In written court filings, Tsarnaev’s lawyers cite their analysis of lengthy questionnaires completed by 1,373 prospective jurors. They say 68 percent indicated they have already formed an opinion that Tsarnaev is guilty and 69 percent identified some kind of personal connection to the case.

Three people were killed and more than 260 people were injured when twin bombs exploded near the finish line of the marathon on April 15, 2013.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers argue that the “widespread victimization” created by the bombings makes it impossible for Tsarnaev to receive a fair trial in Massachusetts.

But prosecutors point to progress made during individual questioning of prospective jurors. So far, O’Toole has qualified 54 people to serve as jurors, finding them capable of being fair and impartial. Of those, 63 percent indicated they have not formed an opinion that Tsarnaev is guilty and the remaining 37 percent indicated they could set aside their opinions and be impartial, prosecutors said.

Tsarnaev, 21, faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted of carrying out the bombings.


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