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More potential jurors summoned for Tsarnaev trial

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces 30 charges, and 17 of those carry a possible death penalty.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces 30 charges, and 17 of those carry a possible death penalty.Jane Flavell Collins/Reuters

Eight hundred potential jurors have appeared in federal court in downtown Boston for possible selection in the trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and another 400 are expected to appear Wednesday.

US District Judge George. A. O'Toole Jr. summoned a total of 1,200 potential jurors to the courthouse this week as part of the process to select a jury in the high-profile case. O'Toole said he plans to interview qualified potential jurors in person beginning Jan. 15 and hopes to have 12 jurors and six alternates seated by Jan. 26.

As they had on Monday, candidates on Tuesday came in two groups — 200 in the morning and 200 in the afternoon — and filled out questionnaires that will help determine whether they are qualified to serve.

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They came face-to-face with Tsarnaev, who stood before them when he was introduced by the judge. At one point, he seemed to nod his head when his name was said. He did not say anything to the jurors and remained in his chair for the rest of the proceedings.

O'Toole told the jurors to call the court early next week to learn whether they must return to court for more questioning, whether they should remain on standby, or whether they have been dismissed.

He also asked the jurors to be honest in their questionnaire, to stay away from any media reports about the case, and to commit to serving if asked — what he called a civic duty.

"It is the responsibility of every citizen to appear and serve if called," the judge said.

He also warned that, "This case differs from other criminal cases  . . . in a significant way."

If Tsarnaev is found guilty, O'Toole said, the jurors will also have to determine whether he should be sentenced to death.

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Tsarnaev, 21, faces 30 charges, 17 of which carry the possibility of the death penalty, in the twin bombings at the Marathon finish line on April 15, 2013. Three people were killed, and more than 260 were injured, forever scarring one of the city's most storied traditions.

Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, were also accused of shooting and killing an MIT police officer before attempting to flee the area. Tamerlan was killed in a violent confrontation with police in Watertown.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been held at the federal prison at Fort Devens in Ayer since his arrest. His trial could last three to four months after a jury is chosen.


Milton J. Valencia can be reached at MValencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MiltonValencia