Boston Marathon’s jury selection bombing could be end next week after an intensive screening process. The selection process was prolonged partially due to the recent blizzards that pummelled the Northeast, but mostly because of the difficulty in finding unbiased people to serve as jury members.
The selection process began in early January when 1,373 prospective jurors filled out a 28-page, 90-question-long questionnaire. After the initial screening process, the remaining potential jurors are interviewed at Boston’s federal courthouse. U.S. District Judge George O’Toole has already interviewed 114 potential jurors in a room that included prosecutors, defense attorneys and bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. O’Toole hopes to conclude the interviews this week and find approximately 60 potential jurors. This amount will then be shortened to 18 individuals, 12 of whom will serve as jury members and the remaining six as alternates.
Potential jurors are asked about their relation with anyone injured in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil as well as about their opinions about the “War on Terror” and Muslims. Candidates must be willing to consider voting for the death penalty if Tsarnaev is convicted. In a city that remains deeply emotional about the marathon bombings and where a large percentage of the population is either liberal or Roman Catholic and thereby staunchly opposed to capital punishment, finding eligible candidates has been a difficult task.
Tsarnaev, 21, faces the death penalty for allegedly setting off bombs along with his brother Tamerlan at the Boston Marathon in 2013. He and Tamerlan also allegedly shot and killed an MIT police officer. Tamerlan was killed days after the bombings in a gun battle with police.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers continue to argue that Tsarnaev will not be able to get a fair trial in Boston, a city that remembers the 2013 bombs all too clearly.