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(NECN: Alysha Palumbo - Boston) - Attorneys for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have filed a motion for a change of venue for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect's upcoming trial.
This comes after Judge George O’Toole both admonished the government for alleged leaks by former members of the prosecution team and ruled the jury cannot factor in “betrayal of the United States” if weighing whether he deserves the death penalty in court on Wednesday.
That ruling is a blow to the prosecution, and Judge O’Toole made it clear he felt “drawing a distinction between naturalized and natural born is highly inappropriate.”
NECN legal analyst Randy Chapman says this case is very unique in many ways, not the least of which is that much of the focus is on the possible penalty phase instead of the trial itself.
“It seems even the defense is tacitly conceding that the case is strong on the evidence, and that their case is really going to be resting largely on whether or not he should be given life without parole or the death penalty,” Chapman explained.
And that decision would be up to a jury selected in the jurisdiction where the trial is held.
“This is a situation where not only do you have hundreds of people who were directly impacted and widespread adverse publicity for the defendant, in this case there were several cities that were basically held hostage while the defendant was at large," Chapman continued.
Tsarnaev’s defense team has already said it intends to file a motion for a change of venue and Judge O’Toole has held firm on requiring that it be filed by today.
“When a judge decides whether to allow the motion, he has to balance the interest of the defendant and whether or not he’s going to be able to get a fair trial in this area, I think the judge also would appropriately consider the hardship that this might create on the victims who may want to attend the trial,” added Chapman.
Chapman says, historically, it's unlikely a judge will grant a change of venue, but he says the defense may not necessarily want it knowing that if it's denied, it's an issue that can be brought up on appeal if Tsarnaev is convicted.