Over one thousand potential jurors were set to appear in court today in Boston as a part of the jury selection process in the case against Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The 21-year-old man has been charged with injuring 260 people and killing three, after a bomb allegedly planted by him, as well as his brother, exploded at the Boston Marathon in 2013.
The young man is a native of Chechnya and is a United States citizen. If he is convicted of the federal murder charges, he could be sentenced to death. So far, he has entered a plea of not guilty to the 30 criminal charges he currently faces.
From the current pool of 1,200 potential jurors, a 12-person jury will be selected, in addition to six alternates. The trial itself could last anywhere from three to four months before a verdict is reached.
Defense Attorneys Say Jury Pool Is Biased
Initially, defense attorneys representing Tsarnaev attempted to move the criminal proceedings away from Boston. They said that a local jury would not be impartial to the case, considering the number of people who attended the Boston Marathon, watched the events unfold in the news, and had to hide in their homes when the city was locked down following the bombing.
According to prosecutors, Tsarnaev and his older brother plotted the bombing as an act of political terrorism. According to court documents, the younger brother wrote several messages on the hull of a boat, where he hid following the explosion. The messages said, "I can't stand to see such evil go unpunished" and "the U.S. government is killing our innocent civilians.” Police found Tsarnaev hiding in the boat four days after the explosion.
The older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a gunfight with police. Allegedly, two brothers shot and killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology law enforcement officer in addition to the bombing victims during the days that followed the incident.
Everyone Has the Right to a Criminal Defense
No matter how heinous the alleged criminal act, every person is entitled to the assistance of a criminal defense attorney under the rule of law, and everyone will have their day in court -- even this young man. It will be interesting to see how Tsarnaev’s legal team handles his criminal defense in this case -- especially whether they continue to maintain a plea of not guilty or if they try to enter a plea bargain with the prosecution.
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