(BOSTON) — A federal appeals court in Massachusetts on Friday ruled against suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his attorneys, who had been calling for a change of venue in Tsarnaev’s trial.
A three-judge panel heard arguments from both Tsarnaev’s legal team, as well as that of the prosecution, determining by a two-to-one majority to deny the request. Noting that “any high-profile case will receive significant media attention” and thus “it is no surprise that people in general, and especially the well-informed, will be aware of it,” the jurors determined that “a jury anywhere in the country will have been exposed to some level of media attention” in this case. Jurors being aware of the case “does not equate to disqualifying prejudice,” the judges wrote.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers had argued that the media’s coverage would make it impossible to find a fair jury in Massachusetts. A circuit court judge had already denied the change of venue motion three times.
The judges cited numerous high-profile cases, including the prosecution of Zacharias Moussaoui, as well as comparing the bombing to the 1993 and 2001 attacks at New York’s World Trade Center, saying each event “received national and international attention.”
In a dissenting opinion, one judge wrote that while the trial is an opportunity for closure, “rather than convicting Tsarnaev and possibly sentencing him to death based on trial-by-media and raw emotion, we must put our emotions aside and proceed in a rational manner.” Specifically, he says, the courts must ensure that Tsarnaev receives a fair trial.
Jury selection for Tsarnaev’s trial is ongoing.
Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev are believed to have been the perpetrators of the April 15, 2013 bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The explosions killed three people and injured more than 250.
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