Jury selection won't be simple in Boston Marathon case

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Jury selection won't be simple in Boston Marathon case
Prosecutors want panels of the boat in which Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found hiding to be brought to court to show jurors what they say is his written confession. His lawyers want them to see the entire bullet-ridden boat.
In this handout provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, a collection of fireworks that was found inside a backpack that belonged to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev taken on an unspecified date and place. The backpack was recovered by law enforcement agents from a landfill in New Bedford, Massachusetts on April 26, 2013. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev is believed to have bought fireworks from a New Hampshire store in February and authorities are trying to determine whether gunpowder from the fireworks were used in the bombs. Today authorities arrested three additional men in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings. Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev who are alleged to have tried to conceal and destroy evidence to help the Tsarnaev brothers after the attacks, came to America to study at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was also enrolled. The third person taken into custody is Robel Phillipos a U.S. citizen who is charged with lying to federal agents. (Photo by DOJ via Getty Images)
Defense Attorney Robert Stahl, left, guides Murat Kadyrbayev across the street outside of the Moakley Courthouse after they left his son, Dias Kadyrbayev's U.S. District Court hearing in Boston on August 13, 2013. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Robel Phillipos, of Cambridge, arrived with attorneys, family and friends at the Moakley Federal Courthouse. He is accused of lying to investigators. Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov face obstruction of justice charges for allegedly helping Tsarnaev hide evidence after the Boston Marathon bombings were also present at court. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Robert G. Stahl of the Law Offices of Robert G. Stahl, LLC, defending Dias Kadyrbayev, spoke with the media as he walked, after leaving the courthouse. Two men from Kazakhstan and a man from Cambridge were arrested and charged today in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse in Boston, Mass. on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. (Photo by Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Robel Phillipos, 20, one of four former classmates of Dzhokhar (Jahar) Tsarnaev to face federal charges related to the Marathon bombing, leaves the Moakley Federal Courthouse on October 6, 2014. The charges that they face, though not all the same, relate to the night of April 18, 2013, a few days after the bombing when photos of the two Tsarnaev brothers were publicized by the FBI and the pair was on the run. Phillipos, the only one free on bail. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Derege B. Demissie of Demissie & Church, defending Robel Phillipos, walked out of the courthouse. Two men from Kazakhstan and a man from Cambridge were arrested and charged today in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse in Boston, Mass. on Wednesday, May 1, 2013. (Photo by Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Robel Phillipos, of Cambridge, arrived with attorneys, family and friends at the Moakley Federal Courthouse. He is accused of lying to investigators. Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov face obstruction of justice charges for allegedly helping Tsarnaev hide evidence after the Boston Marathon bombings were also present at court. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Newspapers in New York report on the Boston Marathon bombing
Newspapers at a newsstand in New York report on the Boston Marathon bombers
BOSTON - JANUARY 6: A Boston Police boat tied up to a pier behind the Moakley Courthouse, where the second day of jury selection took place in the upcoming trial of Dzohkhar Tsarnaev on January 6, 2015. (Photo by Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - JANUARY 5: Jury selection for the trial of the Boston Marathon bomber started at Moakley Federal Court. A heavily armed Coast Guard boat patrolled the water off of the courthouse. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - JANUARY 5: Jury selection for the trial of the Boston Marathon bomber started at Moakley Federal Court. A heavy police presence was seen outside the courthouse. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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BOSTON (AP) - As some prospective jurors got their first look at Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the young man accused of bombing the renowned Boston Marathon, it became clear that choosing a jury in the closely watched terror case would not be a quick or simple process.

U.S. District Judge George O'Toole Jr. told the first 400 people called for jury duty Monday that choosing a panel of 12 jurors and six alternates for the highly anticipated trial was expected to take at least three weeks.

He told the potential jurors not to think of the trial as "an annoying burden," but as a needed service and an "important duty of citizenship."

Tsarnaev is accused of planning and carrying out the twin bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others near the marathon's finish line on April 15, 2013. Prosecutors say Tsarnaev and his brother, now dead, also killed an MIT police officer several days after the bombings as they tried to flee.

Federal prosecutors and Tsarnaev's lawyers are beginning the process of trying to find jurors who can be fair and impartial. Jurors must also be willing, if Tsarnaev is convicted, to consider imposing the death penalty in a state that abolished its own death penalty three decades ago. Tsarnaev is being tried under the federal death penalty.

Defense lawyers have asked repeatedly that the trial be moved from Boston, where the bombings had a deep emotional impact. O'Toole has refused so far.

Potential jurors Monday seemed transfixed by the sight of the shaggy-haired 21-year-old, staring at him intently when he walked in and when he was introduced by the judge.

Tsarnaev, for his part, rose to his feet and nodded, slightly and awkwardly, as he was introduced to the first group of about 200 citizens. He looked at the floor when introduced to a second group of 200.

Security was tight, with dozens of police officers stationed inside and outside the federal courthouse, along with bomb-sniffing dogs.

The first two groups of potential jurors filled out juror questionnaires, which will be used to whittle down an overall pool of about 1,200 people. Another 800 also will be asked to fill out questionnaires on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tsarnaev's lawyers, prosecutors and the judge will begin questioning individual jurors next week.

O'Toole said testimony is expected to begin Jan. 26 and last three to four months. The trial is perhaps the most scrutinized terror case in the U.S. since Timothy McVeigh was convicted and executed for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Heather Abbott, of Newport, Rhode Island, who lost her left leg below the knee in the Boston attack, said she plans to attend some of the proceedings. She said her biggest question may be an unanswerable one: Why?

"Why he would want to do this to people ... it's really hard to understand," Abbott said.

In Russia, the father of the Tsarnaev brothers again expressed the family's distrust of the U.S. legal system. Recently, one of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's sisters pleaded guilty in Boston to misleading police during a counterfeiting investigation.

"All the information that can refute the allegations against my sons is on the Internet," Anzor Tsarnaev said by telephone from Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. "I still have children in America and I am afraid for them. As you all know, they also caused problems for my younger daughter with fabricated allegations. Who knows what they could do with my other children?"

Prosecutors say Dzhokhar and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev - ethnic Chechens who had lived in the United States for about a decade - carried out the bombings in retaliation for U.S. wars in Muslim countries. Tamerlan, 26, died in a gunbattle with police days after the bombings.

The defense is expected to argue that Dzhokhar had a difficult childhood and fell under the evil influence of his older brother.

___

Associated Press journalist Musa Sadulayev in Grozny, Russia, contributed to this story.

Boston Marathon Bombing Trial Begins

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