At least 1,000 people will be summoned and asked to fill out questionnaires for the jury in the trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a federal judge said Monday.
Tsarnaev, 21, is charged with carrying out the April 2013 attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. He has pleaded not guilty and could face the death penalty if convicted.
Prosecutors say Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, planted two bombs near the marathon finish line. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police several days later.
During a status conference in U.S. District Court on Monday, Judge George O'Toole Jr. said he expects to whittle down the pool of 1,000 potential jurors to about 100 who will be questioned individually. The jury of 12 jurors and 6 alternates would then be chosen from that group.
Jury selection is scheduled to begin Jan. 5. O'Toole said it could be delayed by one day if there are juries for other trials being picked on that date.
Tsarnaev, who is being held in a federal prison while awaiting trial, did not attend Monday's status conference.
Seven protesters stood outside the courthouse holding placards challenging the case against him. One of them, Karin Friedman, of Boston, called the evidence against Tsarnaev "flimsy."
A woman who identified herself as the mother-in-law of a Florida man who was shot by the FBI while being questioned about Tamerlan Tsarnaev said she drove two days from her home in Georgia to stand outside the courthouse. Elena Teyer held a placard with photos of son-in-law Ibragim Todashev.
"I am dead because I knew Tsarnaevs. I knew the truth," the sign read in part.
Todashev was killed in May 2013, about a month after the bombings, while he was being questioned about a triple slaying in Waltham in 2011. Federal authorities have said that Todashev implicated Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the triple slaying.
Authorities cleared the agent, saying Todashev had charged at a Massachusetts state trooper.