BOSTON (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors on Tuesday urged a judge to reject accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s request to move his trial outside of the city, saying there was no evidence that it would be impossible to select an impartial jury.
Prosecutors noted that, in making their request to hold his trial outside the district where three people were killed and 264 injured by the April 2013 bombing, defense attorneys had cited negative media coverage but presented no specific examples.
They also challenged in papers filed in U.S. District Court in Boston a poll commissioned by the defense that found that 57.9 percent of Boston respondents regarded the 20-year-old Tsarnaev as “definitely guilty” and more than half said they had participated in the race in some way or knew someone who had.
Prosecutors noted that the Eastern District of Massachusetts, from which a panel would be selected, is home to more than 5 million people.
“Tsarnaev’s narrow focus on the city of Boston renders his poll data largely irrelevant, because jurors in this case will be drawn from an area 100 times the size of Boston and ten times more populous,” prosecutors wrote.
They also challenged his defense’s use of the trial of Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted of the 1995 bombing of a federal office building in Oklahoma City in a trial held in Denver, as an example of a similarly high-profile trial moved out of its district.
In that case, they noted, the building that housed the court had been badly damaged by the attack and thus was unavailable for the trial.
“The question decided in McVeigh therefore was not whether to move the trial but only where to move it,” they wrote.
Tsarnaev, who is also accused of shooting dead a university police officer three days after the bombing as he and his older brother Tamerlan prepared to flee the city, is due to go on trial in November. He faces the possibility of execution if convicted.
Tamerlan died in a gunfight with police hours after the two are accused of having shot the police officer.
Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Eric Beech