August 24, 2015 / 9:15 PM / 4 years ago

Judge delays release of juror names in Boston bombing trial

Boston Marathon bombing witness Carlos Arredondo (L) and bombing survivor Karen Brassard (R) walk out of the federal courthouse after the sentencing of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Boston, Massachusetts May 15, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

BOSTON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Monday rebuffed a request to release the names of the jurors who convicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of the Boston Marathon bombing and sentenced him to death, saying it would be premature to do so while he is seeking a new trial.

Defense lawyers last week said in a filing in U.S. District Court in Boston that blanket media coverage of the 2013 bombing and its aftermath influenced the jury and requested that a new trial be held outside of Boston.

U.S. District Judge George O’Toole wrote that media attempts to interview the jurors, which likely would follow the release of their names, could interfere with attempts to determine whether the trial was fair.

“If there is to be any inquiry into the jurors’ performance of their duties or fidelity to their oath, it should be done as much as possible through the orderly process of litigation and not through the headlines and the evening news,” O’Toole wrote. “Disclosing juror identities while the post-trial issues remain to be resolved will very likely interfere with the integrity of the proceedings.”

He acknowledged it was unusual to keep jurors names under seal for such a prolonged period of time after a trial’s conclusion.

Tsarnaev, now 22, was formally sentenced to death in June for killing three people and injuring 264 in the April 15, 2013, attack, as well as fatally shooting a police office three days later. His older brother, Tamerlan who also had been sought in the bombing, died after a shootout with police.

The Boston Globe newspaper had moved in court for the names of the 12 jurors and six alternates to be released.

Before the trial began in January, defense lawyers made multiple requests to move the proceedings out of Boston, arguing that it would be easier to find impartial jurors in Springfield, Massachusetts, New York or Washington. The court rejected those requests.

Tsarnaev is being held at the U.S. penitentiary in Florence, Colorado, home to the “Supermax” unit that houses high-risk prisoners, including Oklahoma City bomber accomplice Terry Nichols, underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Bill Trott

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