Boston Marathon bomb victims memorial on Boylston St. (Photo: Sheri Qualters / NLJ)
Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on Wednesday sought to move his trial outside of Massachusetts, provisionally recommending the District of Columbia because it has “the least prejudicial attitudes” of four possible venues.
Tsarnaev’s legal team based its motion on a preliminary assessment of public opinion polls and analysis of news coverage in the four areas. The team analyzed the Boston and Springfield divisions of the District of Massachusetts; the Southern District of New York; and the federal court in the District of Columbia.
“Boston ranked as the most prejudiced on all of the critical measures: case awareness, case knowledge, prejudgment of guilt, case-specific support for the death penalty if Mr. Tsarnaev is convicted, and case salience [to the general population],” the motion said.
The team said it picked courts that were reasonably close to witnesses and other key parties and equipped to handle the case, in which the government is seeking the death penalty.
Although it recommended the District of Columbia, Tsarnaev’s team asked for money and time to do more analysis for a final recommendation. The Boston U.S. attorney’s office declined immediate comment, saying prosecutors would file a response with the court.
Tsarnaev is accused of detonating two bombs in April 2013 with his brother, Tamerlan, who was fatally wounded in a subsequent shootout with police. The bombs killed three people and wounded 260.
Tsarnaev is also charged with murdering Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier on April 18, while he and Tamerlan were running from police. The government seeks the death penalty for Tsarnaev. His trial is scheduled to start on Nov. 3.
Also on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge George O’Toole Jr. struck “betrayal of the United States” as an aggravating factor in the government’s decision to seek the death penalty. Prosecutors had argued that the attack happened seven months after Tsarnaev swore his oath of citizenship.
“To draw a distinction between naturalized and natural born citizens is inappropriate,” O’Toole said.
Sheri Qualters can be contacted at email@example.com.