A prospective juror in the federal death penalty trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev choked back tears Friday as she spoke of the 8-year-old boy who was killed in the attack.
The female juror calmly answered questions from Judge George O'Toole Jr. until he asked her why she was surprised to receive a juror summons in the case.
She then became choked up and told the judge she lived in Dorchester, the same Boston neighborhood where 8-year-old Martin Richard lived. She said she didn't know the Richard family personally, but had once met the little boy during a neighborhood cleanup.
"I was just walking by a memorial for him," she said, her voice quivering with emotion.
The woman, who runs a nonprofit that recruits people to tutor and mentor school children, said her organization had runners in the marathon. After the bombings, she had to look for those runners and their families, she said.
"It was a long couple of days," she said.
Tsarnaev, 21, is charged in the deadly 2013 attack. Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when two homemade bombs exploded near the finish line.
At times during Friday's hearing, Tsarnaev appeared to be avoiding eye contact with the jurors. He looked down and drew on a yellow legal pad at times.
During individual questioning Thursday and Friday, the challenges in choosing a jury in the high-profile case have been evident. Many of the prospective jurors have said they have already formed an opinion that Tsarnaev is guilty. Others have said they could not impose the death penalty under any circumstances. In order to be chosen for the case, jurors must express a willingness to consider both the death penalty or life in prison.
The prospective jurors have also had a myriad of other reasons that may get them excused from serving on the jury.
One woman whose husband is a Massachusetts state trooper said she could not be impartial because Tsarnaev is charged in the killing of an MIT police officer days after the bombings.
A man questioned by one of Tsarnaev's attorneys acknowledged that he still has feelings of anger about the bombings and called the attack "needless." At one point, he gestured toward Tsarnaev, but said he didn't know if his anger is directed at a particular person or the "events."
Twenty people were questioned Thursday; another 14 were questioned Friday. Questioning is expected to resume Tuesday. A panel of 12 jurors and six alternates will be chosen.
Among the potential jurors on Friday were an executive assistant, a former corrections employee, banker, a scientist, a data management consultant for a pharmaceutical company, a software engineer a computer repairman and a retired CAT scan technician.
An older male juror who's a pharmaceutical biologist said he would have a hard time, as he put it,"contributing to someone's death." His voice cracked as he said, "I don't know if I could live with that."
Another said she met victim Martin Richard and helped search for runners at the finish line.
"I don't know the Richard family personally but I did a clean up that day in the neighborhood and met Martin," said the female juror.
The attorneys and judge mutually decided to stop questioning her after an emotional display.
One said he ran the marathon four times, and another said she was nearby the marathon and had been at the finish line and was headed back when the bombs went off. Another said her neighbor was the head of the Boston FBI when the bombing happened, but she never talked to him about it.
The judge has said he expects testimony in the trial to begin Jan. 26.