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Protest challenges Tsarnaev trial as judge summons 1,000 possible jurors


At least 1,000 people will be summoned and asked to fill out questionnaires for the jury in the trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a federal judge said Monday.

Tsarnaev, 21, is charged with carrying out the April 2013 attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. He has pleaded not guilty and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Prosecutors say Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, planted two bombs near the marathon finish line. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police several days later.

During a status conference in US district court on Monday, Judge George O’Toole Jr said he expects to whittle down the pool of 1,000 potential jurors to about 100 who will be questioned individually. The jury of 12 jurors and six alternates would then be chosen from that group.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin 5 January. O’Toole said it could be delayed by one day if there are juries for other trials being picked on that date.

Tsarnaev, who is being held in a federal prison while awaiting trial, did not attend Monday’s status conference.

Seven protesters stood outside the courthouse holding placards challenging the case against him. One of them, Karin Friedman, of Boston, called the evidence against Tsarnaev “flimsy”.

A woman who identified herself as the mother-in-law of a Florida man who was shot by the FBI while being questioned about Tamerlan Tsarnaev said she drove two days from her home in Georgia to stand outside the courthouse. Elena Teyer held a placard with photos of son-in-law Ibragim Todashev.

“I am dead because I knew Tsarnaevs. I knew the truth,” the sign read in part.

Todashev was killed in May 2013, about a month after the bombings, while he was being questioned about a triple slaying in Waltham in 2011. Federal authorities have said that Todashev implicated Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the triple slaying.

Authorities cleared the agent, saying Todashev had charged at a Massachusetts state trooper.

Judge Says 1,000 Potential Jurors May Be Screened For Boston Bombing Trial


A judge in Boston says that some 1,000 pre-trial jurors may be asked to complete a questionnaire for the trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in January.

The Boston Herald reports U.S. District Court Judge George O’Toole Jr. made the announcement at a status conference on Monday.

The Herald adds:

"Out of the 1,000 potential jurors who will complete questionnaires, about 100 will be questioned before 12 jurors and six alternates are chosen.

"Tsarnaev, who did not attend today’s conference, is charged with planting two bombs near the finish line of the marathon with his older brother, Tamerlan, on April, 15, 2013, killing three people and injuring more than 260. He faces 30 counts, with 17 of them carrying the death penalty. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police. MIT officer Sean Collier, 26, was also killed at the start of that manhunt, allegedly by the brothers."

USA Today reports that almost since the outset, one of the big issues in this trial has been the ability to find an impartial jury. Tsarnaev’s defense attorneys asked for a change of venue, but O’Toole declined that request, saying “despite the widespread impact of the bombings, the Boston metropolitan area is large enough to generate a sufficient pool of qualified jurors.”

Tsarnaev lawyers due in court in Boston Marathon bombing case - The Boston Globe


One thousand questionnaires will be printed for potential jurors in the trial of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a judge said Monday during a status conference in Tsarnaev’s case in federal court in Boston.

During the brief hearing, US District Court Judge George A. Toole went over plans for jury selection with federal prosecutors and lawyers.

After prosecution and defense attorneys discussed their discovery efforts — the process of the two sides sharing information in a legal case — the judge said, “to the extent you’re engaged in negotiations, I’m happy to let you do that.”

O’Toole began the hearing, which lasted less than 15 minutes, by saying, “I think this will be brief, but that’s what status conferences are for.” He slated another status conference for Nov. 12.

Tsarnaev, who did not attend the hearing, is charged with carrying out the April, 15, 2013 attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. He has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against him.

Prosecutors say Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, planted two bombs near the Marathon finish line. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed after a shootout with police several days after the bombing.

Tsarnaev is being held in a federal prison while awaiting his trial, which is scheduled to begin in January.

Lawyers appear in court for Boston Marathon bombing suspect


BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com/AP) – Federal prosecutors and lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev appeared in court on Monday morning for a status conference.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers and prosecutors met with Judge George O’Toole Jr.  to discuss Tsarnaev’s December trial schedule, as well as admissible evidence and any additional witnesses.  

In a court filing on Thursday, the two sides said they were awaiting rulings from the judge on several requests, including a defense request to order prosecutors to turn over any evidence they have linking Tamerlan Tsarnaev to a 2011 triple slaying in Waltham. The defense says a prosecution witness could testify that Dzhokhar knew his brother was involved in the unsolved killings of three men, which could show that Tamerlan wielded influence over his brother in the marathon bombing.

Tsarnaev appeared in court while prosecutors and lawyers went over future jury selection and the brief status conference came to a close.

Tsarnaev is being held in a federal prison while awaiting his trial, which is scheduled to begin in January.


The December schedule ahead of accused marathon bombers trial is being discussed regarding admissible evidence and any additional witnesses.


Judge denies Tsarnaev bid to suppress evidence

Robel Phillipos trial resumes Friday morning - The Boston Globe


A substance abuse specialist testified Friday that Robel Phillipos, a friend of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, could have smoked enough marijuana in one day to affect his recall of events.

Dr. Alan Wartenberg was the final defense witness in the trial of Phillipos, who is accused of lying to federal investigators about what he was doing the night of April 18, 2013, a few days after the Marathon bombing. Phillipos, who turns 21 on Saturday, did not take the stand, and jurors were told to return to court Tuesday for closing arguments.

Wartenberg’s testimony was considered critical for defense attorneys, who are trying to show that Phillipos’ use of marijuana on that April day was so extensive that it impaired his ability to recall what he did. Two friends who were with him that night have been convicted of obstruction of justice for going throwing away a backpack containing fireworks that they had taken from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room in an effort to protect him.

Defense attorney Susan Church asked Wartenberg about the impact on a young man’s brain if he smoked marijuana a half-dozen times over 12 hours, including using a vaporizer, which Phillipos is alleged to have done that day.

“It would impair memory, executive function and judgment, as well as other potential cognitive functions,” testified Wartenberg, who has worked in addiction recovery programs at Faulkner Hospital in Boston.

Wartenberg also testified that while marijuana smoking rarely causes blackouts, it can create “spotty” memories.

Under cross-examination by prosecutor Stephanie Siegmann, the physician acknowledged that he never physically examined Phillipos on April 18, 2013, nor any time after that, to judge how marijuana affects Phillipos. She also probed the financial arrangement that brought him to the witness stand, eliciting testimony that he is paid about $200 an hour, and he estimates his total bill will be about $4,000 for 20 hours of work.

When asked if he only testifies as a paid expert on behalf of the defense, Wartenberg replied that he is mostly hired by defense lawyers because they, not prosecutors, tend to seek him out.

On Thursday, former Governor Michael Dukakis stunned the gathering by testifying for the defense, saying his wife and Phillipos’ mother are longtime friends. He said he has seen Phillipos, whose character he praised, grow up. Dukakis testified about a cell phone conversation he had with Phillipos on April 20, 2013 during which the former UMass-Dartmouth student seemed “confused” after extensive questioning by the FBI.

For the most part, prosecution witnesses were federal agents who testified about Phillipos’ alleged false statements over multiple interviews in a one-week span, allegedly to conceal his involvement in the scheme to dispose of the backpack.

Most of the defense witnesses have been Phillipos’ college friends who smoked pot or texted with him on April 18, 2013. That day triggered disbelief and panic among many of Tsarnaev’s friends who recognized Tsarnaev in the photos of the bombing suspects that had been newly released by the FBI. Shortly after the images appeared on TV, the two Tsarnaev brothers went on the run, allegedly killing an MIT police officer along the way. The older brother, Tamerlan, died hours later in a shootout with police in Watertown.

Tsarnaev, who was captured the next day in a boat stored in backyard, is scheduled to go to trial early next year. He faces a potential death penalty if convicted of setting off two bombs that killed three and injured 260 others.

Patricia Wen can be reached at wen@globe.com.



Document 608 Filed 10/17/14

Motion to Dismiss Indictment and Stay Proceedings (dkt. no. 506) is DENIED.