Opening statements in the trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could occur in the first week of March, according to a statement released by the court.
The jury selection process — which began Jan. 5 with an initial pool of 1,373 prospective jurors from Eastern Massachusetts — is likely to conclude early next week, according to the court.
By Friday, US District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. had questioned 235 potential jurors over 19 days in an effort to find a pool of 70 suitable people. As of Wednesday, O’Toole had found 61 such people.
Once 70 suitable jurors have been found, lawyers on each side will be allowed to dismiss 23 jurors for any reason, until a final pool of 12 jurors and six alternates is seated.
O’Toole may also hear pending motions next week that have to be resolved before evidence is presented, pushing opening statements into the following week.
Tsarnaev, 21, is accused of planting the bombs at the 2013 Marathon finish line that killed three people and injured hundreds more. He faces 17 charges that carry the possibility of the death penalty.
Lawyers for Tsarnaev have asked multiple times for the high-profile trial to be moved out of Boston. A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals in Boston is considering the defense’s latest request to intervene, but there is no timetable for their decision.