Boston marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers asked to delay jury selection for a third time on Thursday, citing the difficulty of finding jurors in the Boston area that do not believe Tsarnaev is guilty or are otherwise biased toward him. The lawyers said they don’t think he’ll get a fair trial.
Tsarnaev faces 30 charges related to an alleged connection with two bomb blasts at the 2013 Boston Marathon and could be handed the death penalty if convicted. The trial was scheduled to start on Jan. 26, but the jury selection difficulty has delayed it until an unspecified date, according to Reuters.
The court needs 12 jurors and six alternates to begin the trial. At least 1,350 prospective jurors have been interviewed, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“An extraordinary 85 percent of the prospective jurors either believe Mr. Tsarnaev is guilty, or have some self-identified ‘connection’ to the case, or both,” Tsarnaev’s lawyers said on Thursday, according to an NBC News tweet. A Federal appeals court denied two previous requests to move the case out of the Boston area. The lawyers asked to delay the trial on Jan. 13 in the wake of the Paris terror attacks earlier this month, which they argued interfered with the trial.
A public opinion poll commissioned by Tsarnaev’s lawyers in June found 57 percent of Bostonians, 47.9 percent of New York City residents and 51.7 percent of Springfield, Massachusetts, residents already believed Tsarnaev was guilty and were therefore unfit to serve as jurors, according to WCVB Boston. Washington, D.C., was the least biased, according to the study: 37.4 percent of people surveyed had a pre-existing bias against Tsarnaev. His lawyers hoped to move the case there.
Tsarnaev is accused of working in tandem with his older brother, Tamerlan, to carry out the bombings using two pressure-cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon finish line. Three were killed, including 8-year-old Martin William Richard, and 260 were wounded. An area police officer was killed in a shootout with the two brothers that also ended with Tamerlan’s death. Tsarnaev was later found heavily wounded, hiding in a covered boat in a suburban backyard after a massive area manhunt.