By Elizabeth Barber
BOSTON (Reuters) - Jurors hearing the Boston Marathon bombing trial are barred from attending this year’s race, a federal judge told the panel on Tuesday as part of instructions ahead of the trial's sentencing phase.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, was convicted last week of planting two homemade bombs at the crowded finish line of the world famous marathon in 2013, killing three people and injuring 264 others.
The same jury that convicted Tsarnaev will hear testimony on whether he should be sentenced to death or life in prison for his crimes, starting next Tuesday, the day after the 2015 marathon takes place.
"Do not attend the Boston Marathon or any related events or gatherings," Judge George O’Toole told jurors in U.S. District Court in Boston, describing the sentencing phase as "sensitive."
The famed race, which draws elite runners from around the world, takes place on the Patriots Day holiday in Massachusetts - commemorating the first battles of the American Revolution - and has taken on special significance for the city's residents since the 2013 bomb attack.
O'Toole said the sentencing phase of the trial - in which witnesses will again be called to the stand - is expected to take four weeks, followed by jury deliberations.
"In the next phase of this case you will learn a lot more," defense lawyer Judy Clarke told jurors during closing statements in Tsarnaev's trial.
O’Toole also reminded jurors to avoid all media coverage, especially on the second anniversary of the bombings on Wednesday.
(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Jonathan Oatis)