The trial of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will begin on Nov. 3, a federal judge has ruled, a much earlier date than defense attorneys had requested.
In a status hearing Wednesday, Judge George O’Toole said the date was fair. Defense attorneys had asked for a trial date no earlier than September 2015. Tsarnaev was not present at the hearing.
In a motion filed Monday, defense attorneys said they have repeatedly asked for additional information from the government, but the requests are outstanding. Additionally, they said they have not had the opportunity to review nearly 2,000 items that are still being analyzed by the FBI. In July, Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to 30 federal counts, including using a weapon of mass destruction.
Last month, U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder said he was seeking the death penalty for Tsarnaev, who is suspected of carrying out the April 15 bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon that wounded 260 and killed three.
In a motion notifying the court of the intention to seek the death penalty, the government said Tsarnaev “intentionally killed” victims Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard and Lingzi Lu, who died in the bombing, and officer Sean Collier, who was shot at the beginning of Tsarnaev’s wild drive through Cambridge and Watertown, Mass.
There was no mention of Tsarnaev’s brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout with police as the brothers fled through Watertown. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev escaped the shootout and eventually hid in a backyard boat. Prosecutors say that while in the boat, he wrote messages about how the U.S. was “killing innocent civilians.” Because of that and other reasons, it is holding him in relative isolation in prison and imposing restrictions on his communications that defense attorneys say are hampering their ability to do their job.
Tsarnaev is being represented by a team of lawyers, including Judy Clarke, who is currently in private practice in San Diego. Clarke has also defended Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Jared Loughner, who went on a shooting rampage in Tucson in 2011 that injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
The defense said it planned to challenge the government’s intent to seek the death penalty and also ask for a change of venue.
The trial is expected to last about three months, prosecutors said.
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