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.
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"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.