The trial of the man accused of planting bombs at the Boston Marathon last year has begun with the selection of the jury to be empaneled for the trial. The jurors are being chosen from a pool of 3,000 citizens – an unusually large jury pool, but necessary in this type of death penalty case. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the man charged with the terror attack, appeared in court as the Judge addressed the first batch of prospective jurors.
Tsarnaev, 21, is charged with 30 criminal counts in relation to the Boston Marathon attack and in the murder of MIT campus police officer Sean Collier a few days after the bombing. In the attack, two bombs concealed in backpacks were detonated by the bombers, exploding with tremendous force near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. The bombings killed three people and injured 260 others. Tsarnaev’s older brother Tamerlan, also believed to be involved in the crimes, died in a shootout with police the same night that the younger Tsarnaev was captured.
The younger Tsarnaev has been held at Federal Medical Center Devens, a prison facility on a decommissioned U.S. Army base, since shortly after the bombings. The facility is located about 40 miles west of Boston. The trial is being held in a federal courthouse less than two miles from where the attacks occurred. Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In court, the judge said that he expects that the trial will last three or four months and that opening statements will begin around Jan. 26. Defense lawyers lost repeated bids to have the trial delayed or moved out of Boston, stating that it would be impossible for their client to receive a fair trial there. The city of Boston has refused to be cowed by the attacks on its citizens. Last year’s Boston Marathon drew a crowd of nearly 1 million people to watch, which was twice the number of spectators at the event in previous years.