Appeals court turns down request to relocate Boston Marathon bombing trial

Decision in Boston Marathon bombing case clears the way for jury selection

A federal appeals court refused late Friday to move the Boston Marathon bombing trial out of Boston, clearing the way for a local jury to decide the fate of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the terrorist attack that two years ago killed three and injured more than 260 people.

The three-judge panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 against the Tsarnaev legal defense team's position that too many Boston area residents have pre-judged Tsarnaev and a fair and impartial jury cannot be found.

The court found that the defense did not meet the standard necessary for  a change of venue.

"Any high-profile case will receive significant media attention," the panel said. "It is no surprise that people in general, and especially the well-informed, will be aware of it. Knowledge, however, does not equate to disqualifying prejudice. Distinguishing between the two is at the heart of the jury selection process."

The ruling marked the second time the panel has rejected the defense request. It was not immediately clear whether the defense would now ask the full appellate court to hear the matter.

The government has maintained that Boston is the most suitable place to try Tsarnaev. And the appeals panel agreed, saying that to grant a change of venue, the defense needed to show that "irreparable harm" to the defendant would result if the case stayed in Boston.

"In the case before us, we cannot say petitioner has met these onerous standards and so relief must be denied," the panel wrote.

Meanwhile, jury selection is almost complete and opening statements begin Wednesday.

On Twitter: @RickSerranoLAT

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