Accused Boston bomber's lawyers renew bid for trial out of state

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 08, 2014 11:47 AM

BOSTON (Reuters) - Lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have renewed efforts to move his trial out of Massachusetts, arguing in new court documents that it would be difficult to find an unbiased jury in the state.

Tsarnaev's attorneys filed a declaration late Thursday from a California State University professor who said his examination of poll results and media coverage showed the 21-year-old defendant had a better chance of a fair trial in Washington D.C.

"It is my professional opinion ... that the Court should grant a change of venue from the District of Massachusetts, and preferably to Washington, D.C.," Professor Edward Bronson wrote in the declaration, filed in U.S. District Court in Boston.

Bronson said research of media coverage and resident attitudes toward Tsarnaev in other potential court venues - including Springfield, Massachusetts, and New York City - showed they were more likely than D.C. residents to believe Tsarnaev was guilty.

Tsarnaev's defense had first argued in June for a change of trial venue to D.C. on concerns over jury prejudice, which prosecutors denied. The judge has yet ruled on the motion.

Tsarnaev is accused of having worked with his older brother, Tamerlan, to plant two homemade pressure cooker bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. The explosions killed three people and injured more than 260.

The ethnic Chechen bothers were on the run for days after the incident before Tamerlan was killed during a gun battle with police. Dzhokhar was captured shortly afterwards, hiding in a dry-docked boat in a Boston suburb.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism and faces the death penalty if convicted.

(Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Bernadette Baum)