A federal judge has denied a request for a delay in jury selection sought by attorneys for the alleged Boston Marathon bomber, who argued that potential jurors in the case could be prejudiced by the recent terror attacks in France.
US District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. on Wednesday morning denied the request by lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to suspend jury empanelment.
“My detailed review of juror questionnaires in preparation for voir dire has so far confirmed, rather then undermined, my judgment that a fair and impartial jury can and will be chosen to determine the issues in this case,” O’Toole said in a ruling filed in federal court in Boston.
Jury selection is underway in the trial of the 21-year-old Tsarnaev, who, along with his late brother, allegedly planted the twin homemade bombs that exploded near the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15, 2013. Three people were killed and more than 260 others were injured. The brothers also allegedly killed an MIT police officer as they attempted to flee the area several days later. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Tsarnaev.
Defense lawyers have questioned whether a fair and impartial jury can be found in a region that was so traumatized by the attack on a beloved sporting event. Their attempts to get a change of venue have been unsuccessful.
After the attacks in France last week left 17 people dead, Tsarnaev’s lawyers on Tuesday had asked O’Toole to delay jury selection, saying that “the Boston bombings are being newly placed at the center of a grim global drama.”
“At a minimum, the Court should pause long enough to let this latest storm subside,” the lawyers argued in a court filing Tuesday afternoon.
O’Toole ruled Wednesday morning before the prosecution had filed its arguments against the defense request. “No response from the government is necessary,” O’Toole wrote.
Milton J. Valencia of the Globe staff contributed to this report.