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Boston Bomber Appeals: Nix Conviction, Death Sentence

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's lawyers say he should never have been tried in Boston
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2018 6:11 AM CST
This undated file photo released by the FBI on April 19, 2013, shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.   (FBI via AP, File)

(Newser) – Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's attorneys don't deny their client was behind the "heinous" 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, along with his late brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. But they're now appealing the 25-year-old's conviction and death sentence, arguing that publicity before the trial in Boston was so prevalent and "damning" that there's no way he could've gotten a fair shake there, Reuters reports. "This case should not have been tried in Boston," they said in a 1,100-page filing Thursday, laying out their case that, because of the oversaturation of media coverage and a US district judge's refusal to move the trial outside of Massachusetts' capital, "a jury drawn from the Boston metropolitan area was uniquely incapable of impartially deciding this case," per NBC News and the Boston Herald.

Tsarnaev's lawyers also take issue with the fact that two jurors had posts on social media about the case and lied about it, but were chosen anyway. A third bone of contention: that US District Judge George O'Toole didn't let them inform jurors of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's links to a 2011 triple murder. That omission, they say, hurt their case that their client was unduly influenced by his "angry and violent" older brother to carry out the bombing, which they contend Tamerlan Tsarnaev masterminded. Two women and an 8-year-old boy were killed in the April 15, 2013, bombing that also left more than 260 injured, and a 26-year-old MIT campus police officer was murdered by the fugitive brothers three days later. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed during a shootout with police four days after the bombing. (The younger Tsarnaev already tried to make a deal to save his life—and was rejected.)

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