Revealing Tsarnaev verdict fell to restaurant manager
Panel picked Juror 286 as foreperson to organize deliberations
When the 12 jurors were handed the Boston Marathon bombing case late last Monday, US District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. told them to elect a foreperson — someone to organize their deliberations and report their verdict to the court. They chose Juror 286.
She is one of seven women on the jury, a general manager at a restaurant outside of Boston, where she has worked for two decades.
Though she lives in Boston, she told the judge in February that she had no special connection to the Boston Marathon. She went to the One Fund concert and bought a Boston Strong T-shirt, but she last wore it about a year ago, during a trip to Disney World.
“I don’t go to the Marathon, I don’t live in downtown Boston, I wasn’t affected by it,” she told O’Toole, during the jury screening process.
The identity of the jurors who are serving on the high-profile death penalty trial is secret until after the trial, but some biographical information about the seven women and five men selected for the panel is known from the answers they gave in open court during the jury screening process. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his lawyers and a few prosecutors witnessed the questioning of Juror 286 from a table in front of her. Two journalists, several US marshals, a handful of court staff, and a few other members of the legal teams were also in the courtroom.
The juror told O’Toole that her most troubling experience after the Marathon bombing in April 2013 was explaining to her children what was happening. She said she also was rattled by the false terror alarm that same day at the University of Massachusetts Boston, which, turned out to be a fire alarm. A relative works on the campus.
One of Tsarnaev’s lawyers, Judy Clarke, asked the juror if serving would be a hardship because she has children, but Juror 286 said it would not be.
Clarke, noting that the juror is a manager, also asked if she could work well with others, as jurors are required to share ideas. The woman said she could.
“I don’t like being the center of attention,” she said.
Through the trial, some jurors wept during testimony, or appeared troubled when prosecutors presented autopsy photos of Tsarnaev’s victims on the screens in front of them, but Juror 286 seemed to be among the more stoic.
They all remained stone-faced when the sweeping verdicts were announced Wednesday afternoon, convicting Tsarnaev of all counts he faced, including 17 that carry the possibility of the death penalty.
With Tsarnaev now convicted, the 12 jurors will be asked to determine his punishment: death, or life in prison.
Juror 286 said during her screening interview that she had not yet made a decision about what sentence Tsarnaev might deserve.
“I’m in the middle,” she said. “I don’t feel I know enough of the facts to make a decision.”
But prosecutors pressed her —
She said she could.
The way she sees it, Juror 286 said, it would be holding someone accountable for his or her actions, no different than she would have to hold someone accountable in her position as a restaurant manager.
“It’s their own actions that are determining that factor,” she said.