Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s defense attorneys and prosecutors held a status conference in Boston on Wednesday, setting a trial date and another status conference date where they will decide the location of the trial.
U.S. District Court Judge George A. O’Toole moderated the conversation between defense attorney Judy Clarke, who has also represented “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski and Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, and the prosecution team over possibly changing the trial date.
After taking into account the options, the final decision remained Nov. 3 and the next status conference will be on June 18. There will also be liability and litigation proceedings, which dates have not been set for.
Although the prosecution team claimed to be going “above and beyond” in providing the defense with all the materials they requested in order to be prepared for the trial. However, Clarke argued that the defense’s lack of access to 2,000 evidence items at the FBI Headquarters in Quantico, Va., would make a November trial date nearly impossible. She also cited the “sluggishness and resistance” of the prosecutors as a delay to her case.
Despite Clarke’s claims and examples of all the “logistical hurdles” her team was encountering, O’Toole stood firm in his decision. However, O’Toole ordered the prosecution team to provide the defense with all the evidence they were requesting by the end of the week.
“This is a realistic and fair calendar,” he said. “This will undoubtedly be a lengthy trial, but we must realize that not everything that can be presented needs to be presented … there are interests of justice that can help you make those selections.”
Tsarnaev and his deceased brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a shootout with police, are the alleged bombers of the Boston Marathon on April 15. At the marathon, two bombs went off near the finish line on Boylston Street, resulting in three fatalities, Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Boston University graduate student Lu Lingzi, as well as over 260 injuries.
Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to the more than 30 counts in which he is charged. On Jan. 30, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Tsarnaev would face the death penalty. Massachusetts eradicated capital punishment in 1984, but Holder cited “the nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm” as reasons to reinstate it in this case.
Tsarnaev is being held in a federal prison and did not attend Wednesday’s status conference. If he is found guilty, the two most likely results of the trial are either life in prison without option of parole or the death sentence.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick released a statement on Jan. 30, said the people of Massachusetts must stick together throughout the long trial period.
“One way or another, based on the evidence, Tsarnaev will die in prison,” he said in the release. “In each milestone of this case — the trial and every other significant step in the justice process — the people hurt by the Marathon bombings and the rest of us so shocked by it will relive that tragedy. The best we can do is remind each other that we are a stronger Commonwealth than ever, and that nothing can break that spirit.”