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Judge in Boston Marathon Case Refuses to Delay Trial
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The defense's request to delay the Boston bombing trial after the Paris attacks has been denied.

Summary: The judge in the highly anticipated Boston Marathon bombing case has denied another request submitted by the defense to delay the trial by a month.


Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. denied a request to delay the Boston Marathon bombing trial, the New York Times reports. Defense attorneys for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the accused bomber, argued that the case had similarities with last week’s terrorist attacks in France.

However, the judge said that questionnaires completed by potential jurors “confirmed, rather than undermined, [his] judgment that a fair and impartial jury can and will be chosen.”

Judge O’Toole has a reputation for being strict, but fair.

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The defense, which has sought delays in the trial for some time, requested that jury selection be suspended for a month to allow emotions stirred by the French terrorist attacks to wane. Jury selection was scheduled to resume on Thursday. Many media reports had drawn parallels between the Paris attacks and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, and the defense argued that it was prejudicial to Tsarnaev.

Three people were killed and over 260 more were wounded in the Boston Marathon attacks.

Last week, potential jurors were screened with a 28-page questionnaire. They will return to the federal courthouse in Boston for individual questioning by the court. Judge O’Toole predicted that jury selection would be finalized in several days, and that opening statements would begin on January 26.

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The terrorist attacks in France fell on the third and final day of jury selection in Boston. Roughly 1,350 potential jurors filled out the nearly 30-page questionnaire, and individual questioning of the jurors was slated to begin on Thursday.

The defense has persistently attempted to delay the trial for various reasons. On two occasions, the defense argued that it was overwhelmed by the massive amounts of documents it had received from the government that needed review. The defense also argued that the trial should be moved outside of Boston, explaining that a jury in Boston would be too prejudiced against Tsarnaev, denying him a fair trial. However, Judge O’Toole denied each request. Jury selection started on January 5.

Read about the previous requests for a delay here.

In its most recent request, the defense said, “The supposed parallels included the fact that the suspects were brothers, that they reportedly were influenced by the lectures and writings of Anwar al-Aklaki, that they were ‘homegrown’ terrorists, and that they attacked civilians in a Western city…These parallels so widely expressed cannot be lost on potential jurors.”

According to CNN, the defense team also wrote, “”It will take time for Boston-area residents, including those in the jury venire, to come to a reasoned evaluation of what, if anything, the events in Paris signify about the surviving alleged perpetrator of the Boston Marathon bombing. That process of reflection should come before — not after — the Court has had its only opportunity to question potential jurors about possible bias and prejudgment of the defendant in this case.”

In 2013, Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to the charges he faces.

Representative William Keating (D-MA), said, “I’m watching what’s happening in Paris, and I’m thinking of Watertown,” comparing the lockdowns in suburban Boston to the manhunts in France.

Source: The New York Times

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