Boston set to remember bloody week as bombing trial opens

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 04, 2015 7:04 AM

By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) - Boston will relive some of its worst memories on Wednesday when federal prosecutors begin laying out their case against accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Tsarnaev, 21, is charged with killing three people and injuring 264 with a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs that ripped through the crowd at the race's finish line on April 15, 2013. He could be sentenced to death if convicted of charges that also include fatally shooting a police officer.

Prosecutors told U.S. District Judge George O'Toole on Monday that they may want to show as evidence autopsy photos of the attack's victims, one an 8-year-old boy.

They also want to play clips from an FBI news conference where officials released photos of Tsarnaev and his older brother identifying them as suspects and setting off a course of events that led to a day-long lockdown of most of the Boston area amid a massive manhunt.

Defense attorneys, meanwhile, aim to portray Tsarnaev as having been under the spell of his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, who they contend was the mastermind behind the attack. Tamerlan died following an April 18, 2013, gun battle with police.

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to all charges in a 30-count indictment.

A replaying of some of the graphic evidence of the attack could trigger fears among people who lived in the area during the bombing week, said Alice LoCicero, a Boston Medical Center psychologist who has researched the psychology of terrorist attacks.

"What people might anticipate is a return of some of the same feelings that they had at the time of the initial bombing," LoCicero said. "A lot of fear may be associated with reliving some of those events."

A panel of 10 women and eight men, all white, were chosen to hear Tsarnaev's trial and, if they find him guilty, to determine whether to sentence him to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole in proceedings expected to last into June.

Security is expected to be tight around Boston's waterfront federal courthouse, where officials have closed some nearby roads amid several large-scale construction projects.

Defense attorneys had cited the "Boston Strong" signs that hung on some of those sites in their four requests to move the trial out of the city that was the site of the largest mass-casualty attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

The courtroom is expected to be packed with family members of the bombing's victims, as well as some of those who were wounded, 16 of whom lost legs.

The bombing killed restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29; graduate student Lingzi Lu, 23, and Martin Richard, 8. Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, 27, was fatally shot three days later.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Eric Beech)