Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspect in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, has supporters -- but they may hurt his defense, his lawyers said. Tsarnaev’s attorneys filed a motion Monday to hold his trial outside Massachusetts and to remove the “demonstrations by self-appointed ‘supporters’” being staged almost daily outside the courthouse.
Tsarnaev's lawyers have tried before to have the trial moved out of Massachusetts, saying local anger and revulsion would make it impossible for their client to get a fair trial in the state. A federal judge rejected the request in September.
Now the attorneys are arguing the presence of Tsarnaev's supporters and their "outrageous conspiracy theories" about government complicity in the bombings could taint the proceedings and prevent fair jury selection, the Boston Globe reported.
Attorneys compared Tsarnaev’s case to that of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. McVeigh’s trial was moved to Denver, where he was convicted and sentenced to death.
‘‘The crimes charged inflicted actual injury on the entire local population,” Tsarnaev's defense attorneys said, according to the Associated Press.
Protesters have stationed themselves outside the U.S. District Courthouse in Boston, armed with posters and banners with slogans the attorneys deemed to be in “support” of the accused Boston bomber. Among the various theories promoted by the protesters is the belief that the bombing was a government conspiracy and that Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan (who was killed in a shootout with police) were framed. Others said they are demonstrating for Ibragim Todashev, a friend of the brothers who was killed by the FBI during the investigation.
“We feel his rights were tossed out of the window,” a protester from Philadelphia who said her name was Valerie Vanetta told the Guardian last week.
The bombing left at least 230 people injured, many of whom were present when Tsarnaev appeared in court last week. One survivor, Marc Fucarile, who has a prosthetic leg from bombing injuries, confronted protesters on his way into the courthouse and told one women to “Get a life” and “go to work,” WBZ, Boston, reported.
“Survivors, jurors, witnesses and members of the public must be able to attend court without being assaulted by inflammatory accusations from any source,” the Boston Globe quoted the motion as saying. “If they cannot, the fairness of the defendant’s trial is likely to be gravely harmed, in part because of the natural but false inference that the defendant and his counsel agree with the outrageous conspiracy theories that are being so vociferously advanced by demonstrators claiming to be the defendant’s ‘supporters.’”
It’s been more than a year since Dzhokhar and his brother were accused of detonating twin bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Tsarnaev has been charged with 30 federal counts and could face the death penalty if he is found guilty. Jury selection for the trial is set to begin Jan. 5.