Jury selection begins for Boston Marathon bombing suspect News
Jury selection begins for Boston Marathon bombing suspect

[JURIST] Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, accused in the Boston Marathon bombings [BBC backgrounder], arrived at the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts [official website] on Monday for jury selection in his federal death penalty trial. Tsarnaev will sit with his attorneys as approximately 1,200 potential jurors are called to the federal courthouse for consideration. The jury will be selected to determine if Tsarnaev planned and executed the April 15, 2013, bombing that killed three people and left more than 260 injured. If the jury returns a guilty verdict, they will have the option of sentencing him to death. While there is strong evidence against Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen from Kyrgyzstan, his attorneys are likely to focus the bulk of their attention to the penalty phase, during which they are expected to argue that his life should be spared from the death penalty due to potential mental health issues. Meanwhile, the jury selection process is expected to take a number of weeks. The courthouse is under tight security, both inside and outside the building. However, gatherings of Tsarnaev supporters have been seen demonstrating outside the courthouse during pretrial hearings.

Many believe that the pending death penalty case will be the closest-followed case in decades. In April 2013 Tsarnaev was charged with using a weapon of mass destruction [JURIST report]. However, the White House also announced that, as a US citizen, Tsarnaev would not be charged as an enemy combatant. Controversy arose that same month after federal officials said that Tsarnaev would not be read Miranda rights [Cornell LII backgrounder] before being interrogated. A US Department of Justice official announced that the government would be invoking the public safety exception. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] criticized [JURIST report] the move, saying that this exception “should be read narrowly” and “is not an open-ended exception to the Miranda rule.”