BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — An appeals court is now deciding whether or not convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will get a new trial.
Defense Attorney Richard Habib went before the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday to argue that Tsarnaev's death sentence should be thrown out, and a new trial held outside of the Boston area.
Habib contends Tsarnaev's trial never should have been held in Boston because of the heinous nature of the crime, and the emotional toll the attacks had on the region.
"Tsarnaev was sentenced to death two miles from the Marathon's finish line, in a venue still suffering the effects of his crimes," Habib said. "The bombings were violent acts of terrorism that targeted and traumatized an entire community."
He also argued that potential bias on the part of two jurors led to an unfair trial.
The three appeals court justices repeatedly asked government attorney William Glasser why the judge in the case didn't ask more detailed follow-up questions of those two jurors during the voir dire, or juror examination, process.
"In our view, the district court conducted a thorough voir dire," Glasser said. "[The court] certainly didn't permit every possible question from the defense, but the Supreme Court has, over and over, emphasized raw discretion that district courts enjoy when it comes to voir dire, particularly as it relates to pre-trial publicity."
Justices indicated the district court should have allowed more in-depth questioning of exactly what the jurors knew about the case, due to the high-profile nature and all the pre-trial publicity—but Glasser disagreed.
"At the end of the day, it's not exactly what the jurors have heard or seen, but rather, whether they can set aside what they have heard or seen, and decide the case based on the evidence presented before them," he said.
WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports