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Tsarnaev lawyers: Suspend jury selection over France attacks

January 14, 2015

BOSTON (AP) — Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a judge Tuesday to suspend jury selection in his trial for at least a month because last week’s terrorist attacks in France have placed the marathon bombings “at the center of a grim global drama.”

The lawyers said a delay would allow some time “for the extraordinary prejudice flowing from these events — and the comparison of those events to those at issue in this case — to diminish.”

On the third day of jury selection in Tsarnaev’s trial, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi burst into the offices of a French satirical magazine, killing 12 people. The brothers were killed days later by police.

In the marathon bombing in 2013, authorities say Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, planned and carried out the attack as retaliation for U.S. wars in Muslim countries. Three people were killed and more than 260 were wounded when twin bombs exploded at the finish line.

Lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said potential jurors in his case were exposed to reports about the French attacks.

“Almost immediately after the attacks, the press, politicians, and commentators drew parallels between the French attacks and the Boston Marathon bombing,” the lawyers wrote.

Dzhokhar, 21, could face the death penalty if convicted. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police days after the bombings.

More than 1,350 prospective jurors were called in to federal court last week to fill out questionnaires. The judge will begin questioning individual jurors Thursday.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers have asked repeatedly to delay the trial and to move it outside Massachusetts. Federal Judge George O’Toole Jr. has rejected the defense requests.

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