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BOSTON — Lawyers for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect asked a judge Thursday to dismiss the indictment against their client or suspend his trial, saying there weren't enough minorities and younger people in the jury pool. The move by lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev came just days before opening statements and testimony are set to begin in his federal death penalty trial.
In their written motion, Tsarnaev's lawyers say the selection process has undermined the required random summoning of potential jurors. They also say the process violated Tsarnaev's constitutional right to have a jury that represents a "fair cross-section of the community." The defense said 1,373 people, summoned from a population of about 5 million in eastern Massachusetts, were originally given numbers based on a random pool order list. New numbers were later assigned, based on when the jurors reported to court to complete written questionnaires.
The defense argues that the reordering undermined the randomness of the selection process and pushed certain groups — including blacks, people under 30 and people who live in Boston — down on the list and made them less likely to be chosen for the jury. A spokeswoman for prosecutors declined to comment. The judge did not immediately rule on the request. Tsarnaev, 21, is accused of carrying out twin bombings at the 2013 marathon. The explosions killed three people and injured more than 260. Opening statements in the trial are scheduled for March 4.