BOSTON – Federal prosecutors are opposing a defense request to move the November trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to Washington, D.C., saying they believe he can get a fair trial in Boston.
Prosecutors said in court filing Tuesday that defense lawyers have failed to show any extraordinary prejudicial local news coverage, and that a preliminary defense survey of bias in the population is unreliable and irrelevant.
"The Court should reject Tsarnaev's contention that pretrial prejudice will prevent him from obtaining a fair trial in the Eastern Division of Massachusetts - a large and diverse area with a population of over five million," prosecutors said.
Prosecutors say Tsarnaev and his brother planted two bombs that exploded near the finish line of the 2013 marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. His brother died following a shootout with police several days later.
Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges.
His lawyers said in a motion last month that their survey of potential jurors in Boston, Springfield, New York City and Washington found Boston residents were the "most prejudiced" on a number of critical measures.
Prosecutors said the actual jury pool will be drawn from a population 10 times larger than Boston's, and it's not relevant to compare it with other cities.
"Like Tsarnaev, the government seeks a fair trial in a venue where the Court can seat 12 impartial jurors," prosecutors said, adding they are confident that screening questionnaires and direct questioning of individual prospective jurors "will be sufficient to achieve that goal."