BOSTON — Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev said Thursday they likely won’t be ready for a planned Nov. 3 trial date.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers told a federal judge that prosecutors have given them volumes of evidence – much of it poorly organized – as part of the pre-trial discovery process that they still need to sort through. They intend to formally request a delay in the trial later by Aug. 29.
Federal prosecutors countered that they simply complied with the defense’s extremely broad evidence request. They maintained that they’ve provided everything the defense needs for trial but that the defense still has not provided them key documents.
Judge George O’Toole did not rule on the evidence issues. But, in another key matter, he did give prosecutors until Aug. 21 to file their response to the defense’s latest arguments seeking to move the trial out of Boston. O’Toole also said he intends to send out jury notifications in September.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers requested to move the proceedings to Washington, D.C., or another jurisdiction in June.
They have argued that Tsarnaev, who was not in court Thursday, is unable to get a fair trial in Boston because of the intense media coverage of the case. Last week, they provided more details about the survey of potential jurors in Boston; Springfield, Massachusetts; New York City and Washington, D.C. that they commissioned to bolster their request.
Prosecutors have opposed moving the trial, arguing in part that the defense has not adequately shown examples of potential juror bias. They have suggested the court first attempt to pick a jury in Boston before deciding on a venue change.
Prosecutors also noted that federal court in Boston has handled other high-profile cases and that the courts have “long recognized the strong public interest in trying criminal cases in the district where they occurred.”
Authorities say Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, set off the two pressure cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon’s finish line in April 2013, killing three people and injuring more than 260.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed during a shootout with police days after the explosion.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges and could face the death penalty if convicted. His next court date is Sept. 18.