Supporters Of Boston Bombing Suspect Were Asked By Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's Lawyers To Leave The Courthouse
The Boston Marathon bombing suspect's pre-trial hearing is underway in the Massachusetts city, ahead of his Jan. 5 trial date, but Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wants his "supporters" away from the courthouse. His defense attorneys argued in a court filing on Monday that their "inflammatory accusations" could damage his right to a fair trial, the Boston Globe reported.
Tsarnaev's pre-trial, which began on Thursday, has drawn a sizeable crowd of self-appointed supporters outside the courthouse, many of whom subscribe to conspiracy theories surrounding the bombing. Some of what his attorneys have called "outrageous" beliefs include the incident being "somehow faked as a part of a government plot."
His team of lawyers, which includes death penalty expert David Bruck, who has extensive experience fighting death penalty cases, wrote in the court filing:
The continuing presence in the immediate vicinity of the courthouse entranceways of demonstrators — including those who gather to challenge as fabricated the injuries suffered by the survivors as they attempt to attend the proceedings — poses a grave threat to the fairness of the defendant’s trial.
His supporters donned t-shirts bearing Tsarnaev's face outside the U.S. District Courthouse in Boston and held up posters and banners with words admonishing his innocence. They have been involved in confrontations with survivors of the bombing, a particular incident of which his attorneys cited as an example — survivor Mark Fucarile, who lost a leg in the attack, removed his prosthetic leg and waved it at a protestor who claimed the case was a trickery. Fucarile asked, "That's trickery?"
Tsarnaev is accused of planting two pressure cooker bombs — along with his older brother Tamerlan, who died in a shootout with the police shortly after the bombs went off — near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon race that killed three and injured 260. The pre-trial saw the 22-year-old make his first public appearance in 17 months, and has drawn attention to the courthouse.
According to the Boston Globe, Tsarnaev's attorneys acknowledged in their motion the protestors' right to free speech, but asserted that:
Survivors, jurors, witnesses and member of the public must be able to attend court without being assaulted by inflammatory accusations from any source. If they cannot, the fairness of the defendant’s trial is likely to be gravely harmed, in part because of the natural but false inference that the defendant and his counsel agree with the outrageous conspiracy theories that are being so vociferously advanced by demonstrators claiming to be the defendant’s "supporters."
Tsarnaev has been charged with 30 federal counts. If convicted, he could face the death penalty — although it could be unlikely, due to his age.
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