U.S. prosecutors on Thursday urged a federal appeals court not to move the trial of Boston Marathon bombing defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev or delay its start.
The trial is scheduled to begin Monday with jury selection.
Prosecutors were responding to a New Year's Eve request filed by Tsarnaev's defense lawyers after the trial judge refused, for the second time, to grant a change of venue. The defense argued the bombing affected so many people that it would be virtually impossible to find an impartial jury in the Boston area.
But late on New Year's Day, federal prosecutors urged the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston to reject the defense request.
"While there has been a great deal of media coverage in this case, Tsarnaev has not shown, as the district court found, that that coverage has so inflamed and pervasively prejudiced the pool that a fair and impartial jury cannot be empaneled in this district of approximately five million people," they said.
What's more, they said, the judge "has put in place a procedure for thoroughly evaluating the potential jurors and identifying any possible prejudice" through questions and during jury selection, "which should ensure that the jury hearing this case is fair and impartial.
The prosecutors also said the trial should be conducted in the community most affected by the bombing. "The Boston Marathon bombing and related events during the week of April 15, 2013 affected several hundred victims, including both those allegedly killed and injured by Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan, and their families. Moving the trial out of the Eastern Division would create an enormous hardship for those victims and their families, depriving many, if not most of them, of any ability to see the trial." The attack killed three and wounded and 260.
The appeals court has not ruled on the defense motion. An order from the court is expected tomorrow.