Ted Wayman, a reporter who was summonsed for the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev jury in Boston, said there was a physical gasp when potential jurors saw the defendant enter the courtroom. The defense team for Tsarnaev has petitioned to delay the trial and jury selection process, to avoid bias considering the recent and eerily similar Charlie Hedbo terror attacks in Paris. That request has been denied. Now the federal court must find a “death qualified jury” meaning a jury that is willing to impose the death penalty. Those involved in the jury selection process are making sure they are asking the right questions. Rather than leaning towards questions about Tsarnaev they are focusing their questions on the death penalty. Those who make the final list will become part of one of the most significant trials the country has seen in recent times, one that will become part of the history of the Boston Marathon bombings, their aftermath and ultimately ingrained in the history of the city itself.
Massachusetts has very little experience dealing with modern death penalty cases considering it is one of 18 states that have abolished capital punishment. The last execution occurred in 1947. Tsarnaev has been charged with 30 federal crimes, 17 of which carry the death penalty if he is to be convicted. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts. Many attorneys throughout the state of Massachusetts have expressed their opinion on the difficulty of finding citizens who were not affected in some way by the Boston Marathon bombings.
Almost anyone you ask remembers where they were the day the bombings happened and by 6 degrees of separation, knows someone who was at the finish line. As a freshman in college, I was in the middle of my second semester and already madly in love with the city of Boston and the life I was living with my friends. I left our dorm that Monday morning without my friends, hoping to meet up with them later. I was at the finish line about an hour before the bombings had occurred and unexpectedly decided to leave. At the time I was frustrated, it was hot out, I was holding too many shopping bags, my friends weren’t answering my texts and there were thousands of people everywhere. I guess the combination of those things told me to head home and I still get chills when I think of how lucky I was. I had no idea that I would spend the next few days and nights, on lockdown in our dorm, or listening to police scanners until 3am with my roommates, or religiously watching the news. That was not part of my second semester plans or my preparation for the summer. In a way my magical Boston felt tainted but the courage and the bravery that I saw and heard about will never be forgotten. I remember sitting in the park watching some friends play whiffle ball about a week after, and looking at my surroundings and wondering in that moment what I would do or where we would go, if a bomb were to go off. I started mentally preparing myself for the worst, constantly making plans in my head about what we would do if we were out and something happened. To this day I still catch myself looking for the nearest exit signs in crowded places and holding on a little tighter to my friends. These are things that have been ingrained into me as a person and into my friends as well. I have no idea how the federal court will be able to find an unbiased Massachusetts resident, I would say I wish them luck, but I’d be lying.