Boston Bomb Trial Judge Rejects Delay Bid Over Paris Attacks – Bloomberg
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev failed to persuade a judge to delay his capital murder
trial because of last week’s Paris terror attacks in the latest
setback to his efforts to have the hearing moved or put off.
Tsarnaev, accused of killing three people and injuring
hundreds in the 2013 bombing, argued yesterday that the shooting
of 12 people at a satirical magazine in Paris by two Islamic
extremist brothers, and the related killing of four people at a
kosher grocery in the city, may taint the jury pool in Boston as
residents continue to absorb events across the Atlantic.
U.S. District Judge George O’Toole Jr., who is overseeing
the bombing trial, rejected the argument. The judge previously
denied repeated bids to move the trial out of Massachusetts to
cities where the defense argued less-biased jurors could be
“A fair and impartial jury can and will be chosen to
determine the issues in this case,” O’Toole said in a ruling
today in Boston.
Jury selection for Tsarnaev’s trial began Jan. 5, with more
than 1,300 people being summoned to Boston federal court to fill
out questionnaires. The process, set to span three weeks, had
been under way for only a few days when the Charlie Hebdo weekly
newspaper in Paris came under attack in suspected retaliation
for its repeated ridiculing of the Prophet Muhammad.
“Almost immediately after the attacks, the press,
politicians, and commentators drew parallels between the French
attacks and the Boston Marathon bombing,” one of Tsarnaev’s
lawyers, Miriam Conrad, said in a court filing yesterday.
“These parallels so widely expressed cannot be lost on
Tsarnaev, 21, is accused of bombing the marathon with his
older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and then shooting a university
police officer to death after ambushing him in his parked
cruiser. A citywide manhunt that shut down large swathes of
Boston led to Tamerlan dying in a shootout with police and
Dzhokhar being captured hiding in a suburban backyard.
The newspaper attack in Paris was also carried out by
brothers, French-born Said and Cherif Kouachi, and a police
officer was later shot and killed by a suspected accomplice who
also took over the kosher grocery. A manhunt paralyzed parts of
Paris for days, as it did in Boston.
Tsarnaev’s defense team said other supposed parallels
include the suggestion that the Paris attackers were influenced
by the lectures and writings of Anwar al-Awlaki, that they were
“homegrown” terrorists, and that they “attacked civilians in
a Western city,” according to yesterday’s filing. “Former
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis called the parallels between
the two cases ’shocking.’”
If the jury convicts Tsarnaev, it will have to decide
whether the ex-college student should be executed. The
government argues death is warranted by the horrific nature of
the April 2013 attack, which killed three people, including an
8-year-old boy, and wounded 260, many of whose limbs were blown
off in the street near the finish line.
Tsarnaev, a Russian of Chechen descent, received asylum in
the U.S. when he was 8 years old and took the oath of
citizenship seven months before the attack. His lawyers have
complained that local news outlets have compared him to members
of Islamic State, the Sunni Muslim group that’s carried out mass
executions and beheadings in parts of Iraq and Syria.
The defense has signaled it’ll focus on saving their client
from the death penalty by convincing the jurors that most of the
blame should be pinned on Tamerlan, who may have traveled to
Russia to be radicalized.
The case is U.S. v. Tsarnaev, 13-cr-10200, U.S. District
Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).