Judge denies Tsarnaev lawyers request for delay in Boston trial

A U.S. district judge Wednesday denied a request from lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who had asked that jury selection in his Boston Marathon bombing trial be delayed for a month due to anger and publicity over last week's terrorist attacks in Paris.

“No response from the government is necessary,” announced U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr.
“My detailed review of juror questionnaires in preparation for voir dire [jury selection] has so far confirmed, rather than undermined, my judgment that a fair and impartial jury can and will be chosen to determine the issues in this case.”
In a filing late Tuesday, Miriam Conrad, the chief federal public defender in Boston, told the judge that potential jurors might be inflamed against her client because of the similarities between the 2013 attacks in Boston and those last week in Paris.

Both cases involve pairs of brothers who spent time in the West and were believed to have been radicalized by terrorist groups.

U.S. officials blame the Boston Marathon bombings on Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a police shootout days after the attack.

Brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi were killed by French police after allegedly killing 12 people during an attack on the offices of a French satirical magazine Jan. 7.
“These parallels so widely expressed cannot be lost on potential jurors," Conrad said in the filing. "The probability of exposure to reports of the Paris events, which began before all of the jurors were instructed, is exceedingly high."

Before Wednesday's decision, O'Toole had twice rejected defense requests to move the trial out of Boston. Tsarnaev's attorneys say an unbiased jury cannot be found in the area.

Individual jury questioning is set to begin Thursday morning. Questionnaires were distributed to a jury pool of 1,200 Boston-area residents.
O'Toole has said he hopes to have a jury selected by next week and to begin opening statements in the trial on Jan. 26.
Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death.
Three people died in the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. More than 260 were injured.

Twitter: @RickSerranoLAT