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Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should have new trial, say his lawyers

Published 18/08/2015

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted of 30 charges in connection with the 2013 bombing at the Boston Marathon finish line (Federal Bureau of Investigation/AP)
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted of 30 charges in connection with the 2013 bombing at the Boston Marathon finish line (Federal Bureau of Investigation/AP)

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's lawyers have said that he deserves a new trial in a different location where jurors will be impartial.

They argued that, because of widespread outrage in Boston after the deadly 2013 attack, jurors in the city could not be objective before finding him guilty and recommending a death sentence.

As evidence of "continuous and unrelenting publicity," they provided a long list of public events held in honour of the victims, including a new city holiday and several races.

Widespread media coverage featured stories about survivors, including one "powerfully emotional" moment during the 2015 marathon when amputee Rebekah Gregory ran the last 3.5 miles on a prosthetic leg before falling to her knees at the finish line, crying, the court filing said.

Banners posted around the city urged solidarity. Even on social media, the lawyers wrote, jurors were inundated with posts from relatives and friends.

"Put simply, prejudicial media coverage, events and environment saturated greater Boston, including the social networks of actual trial jurors, and made it an improper venue for the trial of this case," the filing said.

The court filing concludes that the atmosphere tainted Tsarnaev's constitutional right to an impartial trial. It asks for his guilty verdict to be overturned and that the court provide a new trial to determine his guilt and his penalty.

Federal prosecutors did not immediately comment on the request for a new trial.

Tsarnaev was convicted of 30 charges over the double bombing at the marathon's finish line. Three people died, and more than 260 were injured. A judge, following the jury's recommendation, sentenced Tsarnaev to death.

During his trial, his lawyers admitted that he and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, carried out the bombings but argued his brother was the mastermind and he should not receive the death penalty. His brother died after a shoot-out with police.

The defence tried unsuccessfully during the trial to have it moved elsewhere, warning that too many people had personal ties to the marathon or the attack and that anguish in Boston was too powerful to provide a fair trial.

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