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Jury selection begins today in the most talked-about trial of the year, the murder trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who stands accused of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three and injured more than 260.
Rarely has just the jury selection of a case brought with it such media attention -- but then again, this is the Boston bombing case. To fuel your desire for news about what's going on, here are five fast and interesting facts as jury selection gets underway:
1. Parking May Be the Biggest Problem.
Forget coming up with excuses to not get selected for what's probably going to be a long, drawn-out trial. According to The Boston Globe, jurors' first problem will be finding parking. Construction projects near the courthouse have resulted in such a scarcity of nearby street parking spots that private lots are charging $35 per hour.
2. Wait, How Many Potential Jurors Are Coming?
There's a good reason why parking prices have gone through the roof. About 1,200 jurors have been summoned to the courthouse, topping the old record of 858 for mobster "Whitey" Bulger's 2013 trial, according to Boston's WCVB-TV. (In reality, only about 200 will show up each day.) All of this to pick 12 jurors and six alternates? Yup: Not only because of the publicity, but also because all 18 jurors have to be OK with the death penalty because the government is requesting it as a punishment.
3. A Trial Could've Been Avoided -- but Someone Wanted the Death Penalty.
The government rejected a plea deal because Tsarnaev wanted the death penalty taken off the table. That wasn't an option for the Justice Department, which received special approval from Attorney General Eric Holder in order to ask for the death penalty.
Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge who teaches at Harvard, told NBC News the prosecution should have taken a deal for life without parole. "Looking at it realistically, he's going to die in prison one way or the other if he's convicted. So this really is a ceremony that doesn't make sense," Gertner said, emphasizing that Tsarnaev's appeals would likely take several years.
4. A Bomb Is a 'Weapon of Mass Destruction'?
Tsarnaev's alleged use of a "weapon of mass destruction" is one of the 30 counts of the indictment. A little hyperbolic, but that's not limited just to nuclear bombs. As defined by 18 USC Sections 2332a and 921, a weapon of mass destruction can be a regular old bomb, as well as a nuclear weapon or even a grenade.
5. The Actual Trial Is Set to Begin January 26.
If you can't tolerate jury selection, then wait until January 26, when Judge George A. O'Toole Jr. has penciled in the start date of the trial: opening arguments. O'Toole is telling prospective jurors that the trial could last three or four months.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.