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Marathon bombing suspect’s lawyers invoke McVeigh

December 23, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev seeking to have his trial moved out of Massachusetts again drew parallels Monday between the media coverage of their client’s case to the coverage received by Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

It would be impossible to select impartial jurors, defense attorneys wrote in a filing Monday, because “the crimes charged inflicted actual injury on the entire local population” and “greater Boston, was itself, a victim.”

Defense attorneys said “adverse pretrial publicity and leaks continue unabated,” and “media saturation can only be expected to intensify” as the trial — and the anniversary of the explosions — nears.

McVeigh’s 1997 trial was moved to Denver. He was ultimately put to death for the bombing that killed 168 people and injured hundreds more.

Monday’s motion was in response to the prosecution’s opposition to the defense’s change-of-venue request. Prosecutors say impartial juries have been selected for previous high-profile trials.

The defense asked Judge George O’Toole Jr. to hold a hearing on their request. The U.S. attorney’s office did not return a call for comment.

In a separate motion filed Monday, defense attorneys sought to distance their client from demonstrations outside the federal courthouse by people who claim to be supporters of Tsarnaev.

The motion asks the judge to direct U.S. marshals to take reasonable steps to rein in the demonstrators, arguing that their behavior could pose a “grave threat” to their client’s right to a fair trial.

Some of the demonstrators, according to the filing, espouse “outrageous conspiracy theories,” including claims the government was responsible for the April 15, 2013 bombing and the deaths and injuries were faked as part of the plot.

Any inference that Tsarnaev or his lawyers agree with such claims would be false, the court filing stated.

The defendant “therefore moves that the Court take such action as necessary to ensure that jurors, survivors, witnesses, and members of the public are able to enter and leave the courthouse before and during all future proceedings without having to pass through a gauntlet of demonstrators bearing insulting and inflammatory messages,” the lawyers wrote.

They cited media reports of a verbal confrontation last week between some demonstrators and Marc Fucarile, a man who lost a leg and suffered other serious injuries in the attack.

Three people were killed and more than 260 injured when two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15, 2013.

A judge rejected Tsarnaev’s first request in September to move the trial. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Jan. 5.

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and could face the death penalty if convicted.

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