Marathon bombing suspect due in federal court for 1st appearance since July 2013



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FILE - This file photo released Friday, April 19, 2013 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, charged with carrying out the April 2013 attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. Tsarnaev is scheduled to be in federal court in Boston Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, for the final hearing before his trial begins in January. He could face the death penalty if convicted. (AP Photo/Federal Bureau of Investigation, File)


BOSTON — Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has not been seen in public since he was arraigned in July 2013, when he still bore signs of the bloody standoff with police that led to his capture and the death of his older brother, Tamerlan.

On Thursday, he's due to show his face again in court.

Dzhokhar, 21, still had visible injuries at the appearance 1 1/2 years ago from a shootout with police several days after the April 15, 2013, bombings. His left arm was in a cast and his face was swollen. He appeared to have a jaw injury.

Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when two bombs exploded near the finish line of the marathon. Tsarnaev, who has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges, faces the possibility of the death penalty if he is convicted.

Security is tight at the federal courthouse in Boston for Thursday's final pretrial conference, which his lawyers said he would attend. At least one victim who lost a leg in the bombings, Marc Fucarile, arrived at court early. Protesters who say they want to ensure that Tsarnaev gets a fair trial were also outside court.

It is the last scheduled court hearing before jury selection begins on Jan. 5. The trial is expected to last several months. Seating a jury alone could take several weeks to a month.

On Thursday, prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to discuss the jury selection process with the judge. Both sides have submitted questions they want the judge to ask potential jurors, who will be selected from a pool of at least 1,200 people.

A defense motion to move the trial out of Boston also is still pending.

Earlier this month, Tsarnaev's lawyers argued anew that "emotionally charged" media coverage and the widespread impact of the attacks have made it impossible for him to get a fair trial in Massachusetts.

U.S. District Judge George O'Toole Jr. rejected Tsarnaev's first request in September to move the trial, ruling that Tsarnaev's lawyers had failed to show that extensive pretrial media coverage of the bombings had prejudiced the jury pool to the point that an impartial jury could not be chosen in Boston.

Tsarnaev's lawyers previously said the trial should be moved to Washington, D.C.

O'Toole also rejected a defense request that prosecutors turn over evidence about his older brother's possible participation in a 2011 triple killing in suburban Waltham.

Three friends of Tsarnaev were convicted this year of hampering the investigation by removing evidence from his dorm room or lying to the FBI.

Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev were convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice for removing a backpack containing fireworks and other potential evidence while authorities were still looking for the suspected bombers. Another friend, Robel Phillipos, was convicted of lying to federal agents about being in the room. All three are awaiting sentencing.

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