Possibility of Tsarnaev trial in DC sparks anger

Flowers lie on the sidewalk at the site of the first explosion as people walk along Boylston Street after the street reopened to the public for the first time since the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013. Credit: Reuters
Flowers lie on the sidewalk at the site of the first explosion as people walk along Boylston Street after the street reopened to the public for the first time since the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013. Credit: Reuters

Those who were maimed, both physically and emotionally, by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing may have to trek to Washington D.C. to attend the trial of the man who allegedly carried out the heinous act of terror.

As the the court awaits a federal judge’s decision on whether to grant a change of trial venue request made by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s attorneys, Boston citizens are left to wonder and writhe in frustration.

“It is extraordinarily rare,” said Suffolk University law professor Chris Dearborn, a former defense attorney. “Timothy McVeigh got his trial moved for a lot of the same reasons, and if there was ever a compelling case to [change venue], this is it.”

It is understandable that Bostonians would be angered if the trial were moved to DC, Dearborn said, but polling data collected by defense attorneys shows a significant bias in public opinion.

Defense attorneys said they commissioned a survey of possible jurors and asked whether they viewed Tsarnaev as “definitely guilty.”

Boston: Nearly 58 percent
Springfield: 51.7 percent
New York: 47.9 percent
Washington, D.C.: 37.4 percent

About 37 percent of Boston respondents said they believed that if convicted Tsarnaev deserved the death penalty.

More than half of Boston respondents said they were somehow tied to last year’s marathon.

“The goal is to have a fair trial, which trumps everything else, so we have to seriously consider moving to another location,” he said.

About 58 percent of Boston poll respondents said they viewed Tsarnaev as “definitely guilty,” and about 37 percent said they believed that if convicted he deserved the death penalty.

A spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Martin Walsh declined to give specific comment on the possibility that Tsarnaev’s trial could be moved out of the city.

“…Our thoughts and prayers are always with the Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu, Krystle Campbell, Sean Collier, and the brave survivors whose lives have been forever changed. The case now lays in the capable hands of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and we support their efforts to seek justice for our City,” said City Spokeswoman Kate Norton.

Not all have been quite so diplomatic.

People lashed out on Twitter after news of the possible venue change spread. Many users showed a presumption of guilt, but hailed from outside of Boston.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan


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