As search for Boston jury continues, memories of bombing complicate task

Second day of questioning prospective jurors in the Boston Marathon bombing

A prospective juror in the Boston bombing trial choked up during questioning Friday while describing the death of 8-year-old Martin Richard, killed in the April 2013 attack. 

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whom U.S. officials have accused of planting one of the bombs that killed the boy and two others, showed little emotion while the woman spoke.

The woman, who runs a nonprofit organization helping schoolchildren, also struggled to speak about how some of her employees had run in the race and how she helped clean up the neighborhood after the twin explosions that day.

She said she remembered seeing a makeshift memorial for the boy. “I was just walking by the memorial for him,” she told Judge George A. O’Toole Jr., prosecutors and defense lawyers. “I was surprised. My organization had runners. And I had to look for my runners, and their families.”

Seeking composure, she added haltingly, “Those were a long couple of days.”

The woman’s anguish sharply highlighted the defense team’s strong insistence that a fair and impartial jury cannot be found in the Boston area, even as juror questioning continued for a second day Friday. They say too many people were traumatized by the case, that the emotional wounds are still too raw, and that the trial should be moved far from Boston.

But the woman’s brief courtroom drama also bolstered the government’s contention that the 21-year-old Tsarnaev, nearly two years after the  bombings, continues to display no remorse for the worst terror attack in the U.S. since 9/11.

While the lawyers showed facial expressions of empathy for the woman, Tsarnaev mostly kept his head bowed or looked away. For most of the day, in fact, he simply drew or wrote on a yellow legal pad.

Judge George A. Toole Jr. questioned 20 potential jurors on Thursday, and is making his way through 17 on Friday. He originally wanted to question 40 each day and form a jury here by next week. He has said he wants to have opening statements in the trial on Jan. 26.

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death. If acquitted, he could be released, though he would also be subject to state criminal charges.

U.S. officials say his brother, Tamerlan, planted the second bomb. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed by police during a shootout after the attack.

On Twitter: @RickSerranoLAT

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