This week marks the beginning of the Boston Marathon bombing trial, as a court decides on a potential jury to decide if the surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is guilty for his role in the tragic 2013 incident that killed three and left hundreds of people injured.
A total of 18 people will be chosen out of more than 1,200 for 12 juror spots and six alternate spots. The process is set to take a few weeks, with the trial beginning sometime next month. The Boston Marathon bombings happened nearly two years ago, when Dzhokhar and his late brother Tamerlan launched the attack by planting bombs around the marathon finish line. Tamerlan was killed during a subsequent police chase.
Out of the 30 charges Dzhokhar is facing, 17 carry the death penalty. Massachusetts courts have only carried out the death penalty once – in 1947.
“This is not just any other big trial,” said David Hoose, a Northampton lawyer who is one of the few in New England to have tried a death penalty case. “A death trial is different . . . death is different.” He added: “Every phase of it is subjected to greater scrutiny, which is appropriate given the potential outcome.”
The jury selection process could take at least a month. O’Toole and the lawyers from both sides will begin by reviewing the jurors’ initial surveys to determine which of them should immediately be excluded: for example, if they have a personal connection to the case, or a hardship that would prevent them from serving, such as a young child or ill relative who needs care.
Prosecutors reportedly plan to prove the 21-year-old intended to launch a terrorist attack with his brother. Evidence includes hundreds of documents, 700 witnesses, and a video of the 21-year-old with a book bag containing one of the bombs.
Defense plans to paint Dzhokhar as a vulnerable youth who was under the thumb of his older brother.
Prosecutors will want to show that he was a determined, indiscriminate killer. Defense lawyers will seek to portray Tsarnaev as an impressionable teenager who was influenced by a dominant older brother who had grown extreme in his Muslim views, according to court records.
“They will seek to tell the story of how he got to be where he was in a way that makes it human, and, although not excusable, in some measure understandable,” said Max Stern, a lawyer with the Boston firm Todd & Weld.
Under the circumstances of the death penalty, the trial will be broken into two phases. If the jury finds Dzhokhar guilty, a second trial will begin, featuring witness statements and even more substantial evidence.
SOURCE: Boston Globe | VIDEO CREDIT: News Inc.