Lawyers representing Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev requested today to have the trial be moved to Washington, D.C., claiming that Boston has an "overwhelming presumption of guilt." Tsarnaev has pled not guilty to 30 federal charges.
The attorneys said in a motion that their preliminary survey of the attitudes of potential jurors in Boston, Springfield, New York City and Washington found Washington would be the most favorable location for a trial.
The lawyers said Boston ranked as the most prejudiced and Washington the least on critical measures including awareness and knowledge of the case, pre-judgment of Tsarnaev's guilt and support for giving him the death penalty if he were convicted.
While requests for change of venue are rarely granted, Tsarnaev's lawyers argued that the effect their client had on Boston is "even greater" than Timothy McVeigh's on Oklahoma City. McVeigh's trial was moved to Denver in 1996. From CNN:
"The community impact here is even greater than that present in McVeigh, given that the bombings occurred at the Boston Marathon on the day thousands of Bostonians and others from the region gathered to celebrate the runners, the Red Sox, and Patriots Day, the indelible fear that friends and family could have been killed or injured, the trauma experienced by those in the region for four more days while the police sought the perpetrators, and the hundreds of thousands of Boston area residents who sheltered in place during the climactic final day of the search," the motion said. "If a change of venue was warranted in McVeigh, it is even more compelled by the facts presented here."
Federal prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty. Further from the Associated Press:
At a hearing earlier Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that "betrayal of the United States" may not be among the factors prosecutors cite when arguing that Tsarnaev should get the death penalty if convicted.
U.S. District Court Judge George O'Toole said it was "highly inappropriate" for prosecutors to draw a distinction between a "naturalized" and a "natural-born" U.S. citizen.
Federal prosecutors have argued, in part, that Tsarnaev deserves the death penalty because he betrayed his allegiance to the country that granted him asylum and citizenship.
The trial is expected to begin this November.
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