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Boston Bombing News: Opening Statements Scheduled for Wednesday

In the Tsarnaev trial, they have reached the target number of 70 jurors, which will be whittled down to 18 on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 3rd and 4th. There will be a final pre-trial hearing on Monday.

When the trial began on January 5, Judge O’Toole had the delusion that a pool of impartial jurors could be chosen in a week or so. Clearly, that didn’t happen. Now it is estimated that the trial may continue until June.

pbszebra has shared with us Milton Valencia’s breakdown of the jurors who were interviewed. By his accounting:
36 potential jurors said they were open to the question of innocence or guilt.
41 said they thought Dzhokhar was guilty, but claimed they could be open to having their minds changed.
52 were sure he was guilty.
50 were labeled as “no determination.”
52 were not asked their opinion on guilt or innocence.
Will the final jury be drawn from the open-minded 36?

I’m quite skeptical about those who come in with preconceptions of guilt, but claim they can put their prejudices aside.

One article last week focused on a woman who said she was haunted by the Blue Runner Photo, but insists she is open to having her mind changed. Really? That photo proves absolutely nothing. In fact it may actually prove that Agent Genck’s account of Dzhokhar’s actions at the Forum is incorrect. And yet this woman, like so many others, actually believes she has seen a picture of The Bomber intentionally targeting Martin Richard. It’s a distracting magic trick worthy of David Copperfield.

In addition to the difficulties of finding impartial jurors, the beginning of the trial was further delayed by the 100+ inches of snow which descended on Boston. This virtually apocalyptic weather led Missie B. to joke that God was sending a message to Judge O’T, proclaiming “Let my Dzhokhar go – to D.C.”!

Chances of that happening seem slim, of course, but the defense keeps trying. On February 19th, the Appellate court held a second Change of Venue hearing. They have not yet announced a decision. In their previous vote, CofV was voted down 2-1, with Justice Toruella as the minority opinion.

In addition to these efforts, the defense continues to chalk up other grounds for appeal. On Thursday the 26th they filed a motion protesting the unfair distribution of the jury pool (not enough minorities). The motion also questions a last-minute re-ordering of juror numbers, which seemed designed to bump African-American prospects down to the end of the voir dire cycle.

Meanwhile, the poisonous propaganda campaign continues. The other day, the Boston Globe published “A Friend No More: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Took Part of Their Souls.” It featured a crowd picture of a bunch of young people, and interviews with former high school acquaintances or friends of DT who say that they misjudged his gentle nature and are now cursing him. (Surely one would expect real, close friends to take the same trouble that we strangers have taken, to actually investigate the facts of this case.)

On Monday of this week, the voir dire was cancelled without explanation, leading many to speculate that a plea deal was in the works. One lawyer unconnected to the case suggested that to forestall the defense taking the Change of Venue issue all the way to the Supreme Court, the prosecution had decided to take the death penalty off the table and offer a deal. And the Boston Bar Association weighed in to urge a deal.

Rumors and speculations about a plea deal have been rampant from the start. However, it still has not happened. As of now, this case is going to trial.

Tweets from the voir dire sessions, also conveyed by pbszebra, give interesting insight into Dzhokhar’s state of mind. Observers say that he carefully keeps a stone-face while judge and jurors are in the room, but when they are not watching, he is frequently seen to laugh and joke with his lawyers. The other day, for instance, he pretended to throw a stack of post-it notes at Judy Clarke, who played along with the game.

What’s this about? How can the most hated man in America, who seems virtually assured of a conviction and a possible death penalty, be so cheerful?

Through his pre-bombing communications, we have come to know Dzhokhar as a person with a playful sense of humor and irony (very much at odds with the pompous phrases in the alleged boat note). Perhaps he simply has an amazingly resilent nature?

Perhaps he knows that the prosecution case is weak and will inevitably collapse like a house of cards?

Or perhaps he is simply relieved that his long-imposed silence is finally coming to an end?

I understand that in cases like this, the defendant is rarely put on the stand. However, guilt proponents believe he will insist on testifying to state his “terrorist manifesto.”

I find myself hoping that he will testify to explain the many mysteries and inconsistencies in the official story. Although that probably will not happen, his lawyers will speak for him. I look forward to this.

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