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Boston Bombing Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Defense Asks to Move Trial

Lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, accused in the Boston Marathon bombings, asked a federal judge late Wednesday to move his trial out of Massachusetts.

In seeking a change of venue, they said a survey conducted last month in the state showed "an overwhelming presumption of guilt" and a view that the death penalty should be imposed. A high number of people in the potential jury pool attended or participated in the Boston Marathon last year or know someone who did, they said in a court filing.

The defense lawyers said the community impact was greater than it was for the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, which was moved to Denver.

"The bombings occurred at the Boston Marathon on the day thousands of Bostonians and others from the region gathered to celebrate the runners, the Red Sox, and Patriots Day."

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According to the defense filing, the survey found that roughly 58% of respondents in Boston and 52% in Springfield, Massachusetts, said they thought Tsarnaev was guilty. That contrasts, the lawyers said, with 48% in New York City and 37% in Washington, DC.

As a result, they said, their preliminary recommendation was to move the trial to Washington.

They also cited "intense and sustained" news coverage in the Boston area, including "repeated public release of now-familiar photos of the Marathon explosions, the Tsarnaev brothers at the bombing site, and a wounded and bloody Dzhokhar Tsarnaev climbing out of the boat in Watertown" where he was discovered after a shootout with police.

The lawyers said their request was based on a preliminary review of the data and their own estimate of the volume of news coverage.

Prosecutors have not yet responded to the request for a change of venue. The trial is currently scheduled to begin in November.