Judge rejects bid to delay Tsarnaev jury selection

Denise LaVoie
Associated Press

Boston — Jury selection will continue in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial after a federal judge on Wednesday rejected the Boston Marathon bombing suspect’s bid to suspend it because of the Paris terror attacks.

Individual questioning of prospective jurors begins Thursday.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers argued in a motion filed Tuesday that the French terror attacks had placed the marathon bombings “at the center of a grim global drama.” They said delaying jury selection would allow some time “for the extraordinary prejudice flowing from these events — and the comparison of those events to those at issue in this case — to diminish.”

Judge George O’Toole Jr. denied the motion Wednesday, writing that his review of jury questionnaires filled out last week “has so far confirmed, rather than undermined, my judgment that a fair and impartial jury can and will be chosen to determine the issues in this case.”

Jury selection began last week with more than 1,350 prospective jurors being asked to fill out lengthy questionnaires.

The Paris attacks began Jan. 7, the third day of jury selection in Tsarnaev’s trial, when two brothers burst into the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and shot 12 people to death. A total of 17 people, including four hostages, were killed over three days. The brothers, Cherif and Said Kouachi, and a third gunman were killed by police.

In the marathon case, authorities say Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, planned and carried out the attack as retaliation for U.S. wars in Muslim countries. Three people were killed and more than 260 were wounded when twin bombs exploded at the finish line April 15, 2013.

Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police days after the bombings. Dzhokhar, 21, could face the death penalty if convicted.