Lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber to seek to move trial

by Reuters
Wednesday, 11 June 2014 19:56 GMT

By Scott Malone

BOSTON, June 11 (Reuters) - Attorneys for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev plan to ask a judge to move his trial outside of Boston, they said in court papers on Wednesday, adding they needed more time to prepare their arguments.

Tsarnaev's attorneys told U.S. District Judge George O'Toole they needed until Aug. 3 to make their case for moving the trial outside of the city where a pair of homemade pressure cooker bombs killed three people and injured 264 on April 15, 2013.

O'Toole previously set a June 18 deadline for defense attorneys to make such a request.

"The defense has now completed sufficient preliminary research to determine that a change of venue motion should be filed; however, additional and detailed expert analysis of the venue research and media surrounding this case is required to support a motion to change venue," defense attorneys said in a filing in U.S. District Court in Boston.

Federal prosecutors contend that Tsarnaev, 20, and his older brother, Tamerlan, 26, placed the bombs that ripped through a crowd of spectators, volunteers and athletes at the finish of the historic Boston Marathon, and three days later shot dead a university police officer in an unsuccessful bid to steal his gun.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died that night after a gunbattle with police, while Dzhokhar briefly escaped and was found hiding in a drydocked boat. He faces the possibility of execution if convicted.

U.S. laws generally require a person accused of crimes to face trial in the district where the crimes were committed, although defense attorneys sometimes seek to have the proceedings moved to a district where potential jurors may have been less influenced by pretrial publicity.

The trial of Timothy McVeigh, who was convicted of the 1995 bombing of a federal office building in Oklahoma City, was moved to Denver.

The judge hearing the cases of three friends of the younger Tsarnaev charged with hampering the investigation into the blasts by removing a laptop computer and backpack containing fireworks shells from his dorm room rejected their bid to move the trial out of state.

But the judge in that case said he would allow the trial to be moved to Springfield, in central Massachusetts, if the court was unable to find an impartial jury in Boston. (Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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