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Lawyers ask for new trial outside Boston for marathon bomber

/ 09:39 AM August 18, 2015
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

This file photo released April 19, 2013 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, convicted of 30 federal charges in the 2013 bombing at the marathon finish line that killed three people and injured more than 260. Defense lawyers for Tsarnaev said in a court filing Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, saying that the Boston Marathon bomber deserves a new trial in a different location where jurors will be impartial. (Photo by Federal Bureau of Investigation/AP, FILE PHOTO)

BOSTON — Defense lawyers for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said in a court filing Monday that he deserves a new trial in a different location where jurors will be impartial.

They argued that, because of widespread outrage in Boston after the deadly 2013 attack, jurors in the city couldn’t be objective before finding him guilty and recommending a death sentence. As evidence of “continuous and unrelenting publicity,” they provided a long list of public events held in honor of the victims, including a new city holiday and several races.

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Widespread media coverage featured stories about survivors, including one “powerfully emotional” moment during the 2015 marathon when amputee Rebekah Gregory ran the last 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) on a prosthetic leg before falling to her knees at the finish line, crying, the filing said.

Banners posted around the city urged solidarity. Even on social media, the lawyers wrote, jurors were inundated with posts from relatives and friends.

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“Put simply, prejudicial media coverage, events and environment saturated greater Boston, including the social networks of actual trial jurors, and made it an improper venue for the trial of this case,” the filing said.

The filing concludes that the atmosphere tainted Tsarnaev’s constitutional right to an impartial trial. It asks that his guilty verdict be overturned and that the court provide a new trial to determine his guilt and his penalty.

Federal prosecutors on Monday evening didn’t immediately return a phone message or an email seeking comment on the request for a new trial.

Tsarnaev was convicted of 30 federal charges in the double bombing at the marathon’s finish line. Three people died, and more than 260 were injured. A federal judge, following the jury’s recommendation, sentenced Tsarnaev to death.

During his trial, his lawyers admitted that he and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, carried out the bombings but argued his brother was the mastermind and he should not receive the death penalty. His brother died after a shootout with police.

The defense tried unsuccessfully during the trial to have it moved elsewhere, warning that too many people had personal ties to the marathon or the attack and that anguish in Boston was too powerful to provide a fair trial.

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TAGS: 2012 boston marathon, Boston bombing, Boston Marathon, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Trial
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