Boston could prove sympathetic to bombing suspect

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Boston could prove sympathetic to bombing suspect
BOSTON - APRIL 15: Police officers with their guns drawn hear the second explosion down the street. The first explosion knocked down 78-year-old US marathon runner Bill Iffrig at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: Two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: (EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS IMAGE CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT) Destruction and injured people at the site of the one of the explosions that went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon. Barricades hindered the EMS from getting to the injured. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FILE - This Monday, April 15, 2013 photo provided by Bob Leonard shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, third from left, who was dubbed Suspect No. 1 and second from left, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, who was dubbed Suspect No. 2 in the Boston Marathon bombings by law enforcement. This image was taken approximately 10-20 minutes before the blast. (AP Photo/Bob Leonard)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: A second explosion goes off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FILE - In this April 15, 2013, file photo, Emergency Medical Services EMT Paul Mitchell, left, Carlos Arredondo, center, and Devin Wang, rear, push Jeff Bauman in a wheelchair after he was injured in one of two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston. Opening statements are scheduled Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in the federal death penalty trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for allegedly conspiring with his brother to place twin bombs near the finish line of the race, killing three and injuring 260 people. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: A man is loaded into an ambulance after he was injured by one of two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon near Copley Square on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Runner John Ounao crying when he finds friends after several explosions rocked the finish of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 15, 2013. At least two people were killed and 22 wounded when two explosions struck near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, sparking scenes of panic, police said. The streets were littered with debris and blood and paramedics raced off with stretchers as police locked down the area, witness said. TV footage showed an explosion sending up a white plume of smoke along the sidelines of the race. AFP PHOTO/John MOTTERN (Photo credit should read JOHN MOTTERN/AFP/Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: Two officials run away from the first explosion, right, on Boylston Street at the 177th Boston Marathon, April 15, 2013. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
First responders load injured people into an ambulance where two explosions occurred along the final stretch of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Monday, April 15, 2013. Two powerful explosions rocked the finish line area of the Boston Marathon near Copley Square and police said many people were injured. Photographer: Kelvin Ma/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Runners and spectators flee from the scene where two explosions occurred along the final stretch of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., on Monday, April 15, 2013. Two powerful explosions rocked the finish line area of the Boston Marathon near Copley Square and police said many people were injured. Photographer: Kelvin Ma/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: A runner reacts near Kenmore Square after two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: Boston Police struggle to remove barricades to reach victims of the first explosion that went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon,. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: A person who was injured in the first explosion is wheeled across the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 15: (EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS IMAGE CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT) A person who was injured in an explosion near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon is taken away from the scene on a stretcher. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: A runner sits near Kenmore Square after two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Monday, April 15, 2013 file, an unidentified Boston Marathon runner cries as she leaves the course near Copley Square in Boston after two explosions at the finish line. The Boston Marathon bombing has been selected the sports story of the year in an annual vote conducted by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File)
FILE - In this image from video provided by WBZ TV, a bomb explodes near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston on Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/WBZTV) MANDATORY CREDIT
FILE - This photo provided by Bruce Mendelsohn shows one of the sites of two bombs detonated during the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston on Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Bruce Mendelsohn) MANDATORY CREDIT: BRUCE MENDELSOHN
Medical workers aid injured people at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion Monday, April 15, 2013 in Boston. Two bombs exploded near the finish line of the marathon on Monday, killing at least two people, injuring at least 22 others and sending authorities rushing to aid wounded spectators. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Trash is strewn on the street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon where several explosions rocked the event April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. At least two people were killed and 22 wounded when two explosions struck near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, sparking scenes of panic, police said. The streets were littered with debris and blood and paramedics raced off with stretchers as police locked down the area, witness said. TV footage showed an explosion sending up a white plume of smoke along the sidelines of the race. AFP PHOTO/John MOTTERN (Photo credit should read JOHN MOTTERN/AFP/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: A swat team arrives at the corner of Stuart Street and Dartmouth Street after two explosive devices detonated at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 16: Newspapers are on sale at a stand on Newbury Street on April 16, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Security is especially tight in the city of Boston after two explosions went off near the finish of the Marathon, killing three people and injuring at least 141 others. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
A mourner places a note with flowers at a police barricade near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston Tuesday, April 16, 2013. The bombs that ripped through the crowd at the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding more than 170, were fashioned out of pressure cookers and packed with metal shards, nails and ball bearings to inflict maximum carnage, a person briefed on the investigation said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
This Friday, April 19, 2013 image made available by the Massachusetts State Police shows a police vehicle probing the boat where 19-year-old Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was hiding in Watertown, Mass. He was pulled, wounded and bloody, from the boat parked in the backyard of a home in the Greater Boston area. (AP Photo/Massachusetts State Police)
(AP Photo/Massachusetts State Police)
In this Friday, April 19, 2013 file photo provided by the Massachusetts State Police, 19-year-old Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev leans over in a boat at the time of his capture by law enforcement authorities in Watertown, Mass. Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty in the April 15, 2013, Boston Marathon bombing, which killed three people and injured more than 260 others. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died following a shootout with police. The Boston Marathon bombing has been selected the sports story of the year in an annual vote conducted by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Massachusetts State Police, Sean Murphy, File)
This Friday, April 19, 2013 image made available by the Massachusetts State Police shows 19-year-old Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, hiding inside a boat during a search for him in Watertown, Mass. He was pulled, wounded and bloody, from the boat parked in the backyard of a home in the Greater Boston area. Two U.S. officials say the surviving suspect in the Boston bombings was unarmed when police captured him hiding inside a boat in a neighborhood back yard. Authorities originally said they had exchanged gunfire with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for more than one hour Friday evening before they were able to subdue him. (AP Photo/Massachusetts State Police)
This April 19, 2013, Massachusetts State Police photo, shows the boat where Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hides in Watertown, Mass. Tsarnaev, 19, was captured later that night. Sean Murphy, photographer of this image, said it was made from the point-of-view where a law enforcement sniper took a position before the capture of Tsarnaev at the boat (AP Photo/Massachusetts State Police, Sean Murphy)
In this Friday, April 19, 2013 Massachusetts State Police photo, tactical emergency medical technicians tend to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, partially obscured center, at the time of his capture by law enforcement authorities in Watertown, Mass. Photos of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect's surrender have been posted on the Boston Magazine website. The additional images, made public Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013 were among those released to the magazine last month by a state police photographer. (AP Photo/Massachusetts State Police, Sean Murphy)
This still frame from video shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev visible through an ambulance after he was captured in Watertown, Mass., Friday, April 19, 2013. A 19-year-old college student wanted in the Boston Marathon bombings was taken into custody Friday evening after a manhunt that left the city virtually paralyzed and his older brother and accomplice dead. (AP Photo/Robert Ray)
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Race fans with a "Boston Strong" flag cheer for competitors near the finish line of the 118th Boston Marathon, Monday, April 21, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
A fan wears a Boston Bruins jersey bearing the Boston area code and "Boston Strong," remembering the city's solidarity after the Boston Marathon bombing in April, before Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals between the Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks, Wednesday, June 19, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 02: Jonny Gomes #5 of the Boston Red Sox lays the World Series trophy and the 'Boston Strong 617' jersey onto the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street during the World Series victory parade on November 2, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
A "B Strong" logo adorns the grass in centerfield at Fenway Park while the Boston Red Sox work out on Wednesday, Oct., 2, 2013, in Boston. The Red Sox will pay tribute to victims of the Boston Marathon bombings when the AL division series opens Friday. The logo matches the patch the team has worn since the April 15 explosions. (AP Photo/Jimmy Golen)
BOSTON - MARCH 15: A bagpiper wears a Boston Strong jersey during the St. Patrick's Day Parade in the South Boston neighborhood on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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BOSTON (AP) - Given the powerful grief and anger over the Boston Marathon bombing, Boston would seem to be a particularly hostile place for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to stand trial. But it might just be his best hope of escaping a death sentence.

Opposition to the death penalty runs deep in liberal Massachusetts. In a Boston Globe survey in September, 57 percent of Massachusetts residents polled favored life in prison for Tsarnaev, while 33 percent favored execution.

As Tsarnaev's lawyers weigh whether to attempt to move his trial out of town, away from those most deeply traumatized by the bombing, some legal experts say staying put might be a better strategy, even though emotions in the city are raw.

"I'd rather take my shot with the citizens of Massachusetts," said Christopher Dearborn, a professor at Boston's Suffolk Law School. "We're at the highest irony here: We're going to have a death penalty trial in a state where a majority of our citizens don't support the death penalty."

Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that they will seek the death penalty against Tsarnaev, 20, when he goes on trial in the bombing last April that killed three people and injured more than 260 at the crowded finish line of the race. No trial date has been set.

Massachusetts abolished its death penalty in 1984, and repeated attempts to reinstate it have failed in the Legislature. But Tsarnaev is being prosecuted under federal law.

If he is convicted, the jury will take part in a second phase of the trial to decide whether he should get life or death. The jury must be unanimous for a death sentence to be imposed.

During jury selection, potential jurors will be asked about their views on capital punishment. To be selected, they must attest that they are willing to impose death if the evidence warrants it.

Federal prosecutors have asked a jury for the death penalty in Massachusetts in two other cases.

A veterans hospital nurse who killed four patients was spared by a federal jury in 2001 in the western Massachusetts city of Springfield. But a jury in Boston in 2003 voted for the death penalty for a drifter convicted in the carjack killings of two men.

Attorney David Hoose, who represented the nurse, said Tsarnaev's lawyers are likely to hire jury experts who conduct polls and do other research to determine if he can receive a fair trial in Boston federal court, which draws jurors from the metropolitan area and the rest of eastern Massachusetts.

"It is not always as obvious a decision as you might think, especially when you're in a place like Boston, which by reputation has always been the center of (death penalty) abolitionist beliefs," Hoose said. "You have to weigh that against the raw emotional impact that most people in the eastern section of Massachusetts are going to have."

Victims of the bombing and their families had mixed reactions to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to press for execution.

Even Tsarnaev's friends are struggling with the question of whether he should be put to death if he is found guilty.

"I don't know if I wish him the best or the worst," said Rebecca Mazur, who went to high school with him. "He certainly screwed up, but he is still a human being."

Marvin Salazar also went to high school with Tsarnaev but spent two years working with Krystle Campbell, one of those killed in the bombing.

"I'm in a tough position," he said. "I don't know what justice is."

___

Associated Press writer Paige Sutherland contributed to this report from Boston.
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