5 things to know about Monday's trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

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Jury selection in the trial for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev begins on Monday. Here's what you need to know about one of the biggest terror trials in American history:

1. He's being represented by a highly regarded defense lawyer

Judy Clark has a reputation for taking on challenging cases. The federal public defender has represented "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski, Jared Loughner, the man who shot former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head and killed six people in Arizona, and Susan Smith, a South Carolina woman convicted of murdering her two young sons.


In all of those cases, her clients avoided the death penalty and instead received life sentences, leading The New York Times to call her a "master strategist" in 2011.

2. The defense requested a delay and a change of venue, but didn't get it

Clark sought to delay the trial, claiming that prosecutors shared thousands of related documented with her team at the last minute.


U.S. District Court Judge George O’Toole Jr. denied the request on Friday, saying 1,200 people had been called for jury duty and a delay "would cause some unknown degree of disruption to those people."

Clark also asked O'Toole to move the trial to a different venue, arguing that it would be impossible to find an impartial jury in Boston. He denied that request, too. Now the defense is asking a federal appeals court to weigh in. As of Friday, the federal court hadn't ruled on that appeal, meaning the trial is still on for Monday.


3. Boston residents don't want the death penalty

The prosecution, led by U.S. attorney Carmen Ortiz, is seeking the death penalty for Tsarnaev, but Boston residents don't want to see the suspect put to death, according to a September 2013 poll by the Boston Globe.


The poll found that 57 percent of residents favored a life sentence, in the event of a conviction. Only 33 percent said Tsarnaev should receive the death penalty.

The death penalty is not permitted under Massachusetts law and the state hasn't executed a criminal in 68 years. However, prosecutors are able to seek the punishment under federal law.


4. Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to all charges

The prosecution is charging the 21-year-old suspect with using "a weapon of mass destruction" and "malicious destruction of property" in the 2013 bombing attack, which led to three deaths and injured and estimated 264 people. Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to all charges.


The "not guilty" plea could be legal posturing to help avoid a death sentence. Tsarnaev reportedly confessed to the crime in a note scrawled inside the boat where police found him after the bombing.

Also, the Boston Globe reported in April 2013 that Tsarnaev admitted to the bombing while speaking to FBI agents in the hospital. That the confession came before he was read his Miranda rights.


5. Carjacking victim could be a key witness

The most damning evidence against Tsarnaev could be the testimony of "Danny," the carjacking victim allegedly taken captive by Dzhokhar and his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev several days after the attack.


The then 26-year-old Chinese entrepreneur told the Boston Globe that Tamerlan had confessed to the bombing and to killing a police officer in Cambridge. "I did that," the older brother reportedly told Danny about the bombing. “And I just killed a policeman in Cambridge.”

Tamerlan was killed in an early-morning shootout with police in a Boston suburb on April 19, 2013, several days after the bombing. The alleged carjacking took place hours before, as the suspects fled police.


The first-hand account could tie the brothers to the crime, but also position Tamerlan as the leader behind the plan. At the time, Danny told the Globe he was fully prepared to testify if called to the witness stand.

While Tamerlan was on several terror watch lists in the U.S. and Russia, Dzhokhar "was on no one's watch list," as Rolling Stone's Janet Reitman wrote in 2013.


Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.

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