Attorneys for Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the 20 year-old sole remaining suspect in last year’s Boston Marathon Bombing attack, met in Boston for a status conference with the prosecutors and the judge on Wednesday, Feb. 12.
This is the first court appearance since U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder granted approval for federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty for Tsarnaev. That announcement was made on Jan. 30.
In the joint status report filed on Monday, Feb. 10, defense counsel had requested the judge hold off on a trial date until at least September, 2015.
U.S. District Judge George O’Toole, however, concurred with the federal prosecutors. He said that extending the timeline for the trial risked overstuffing the proceedings with immaterial evidence.
Judge O’Toole stated that a trial date of Nov. 3, about nine months from now, is “realistic and fair.”
Tsarnaev’s lawyers claimed the November date was “impossible” to meet.
The judge also told Tsarnaev’s lawyers that they have until June 18 to file any motion for a change of venue for the trial. Although trials typically take place in the court nearest to where the offense occurred, defendants are permitted to ask to have a trial moved elsewhere, if they can make out a cognizable claim that the pool from which the jury will be picked is so hostile that it will be impossible to pick a fair jury.
Tsarnaev, 20, is charged with 30 federal criminal counts. He and his older brother, Tamerlan, the prosecution alleges, are responsible for killing three and injuring more than 260 people using two pressure cooker bombs, placed near the marathon finish line on Boylston St. on April 15, 2013. The three killed by the marathon bombs were eight year-old Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, 29, and Boston University graduate student Lingzi Lu.
Tsarnaev was also charged with allegedly murdering 26 year-old Sean Collier, a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, while trying to elude capture three days after the bombing.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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