In Appeal Filing, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Blames Venue, Social Media for Conviction

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Tsarnaev speaks

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev addresses the court on June 24, 2015. Sketch by Jane Flavell Collins/AP

Attorneys for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev blamed the trial venue, the publicity around the bombing’s anniversary, and social media usage by jurors for his conviction and death sentence in a heavily redacted court filing.

Tsarnaev’s attorneys called for a new trial citing the “continuous and unrelenting publicity combined with pervasive connections between jurors and the events surrounding the Boston Marathon Bombing that precluded impartial adjudication in both appearance and fact.”

Throughout the trial, Tsarnaev’s defense team argued for a change of venue on these grounds that was repeatedly denied by Judge George O’Toole. The filing suggests that if a new trial is not granted, a new sentencing hearing would be acceptable.

The filing, authored by defense attorney William Fick, suggests that media coverage of One Boston Day, the 2015 running of the Boston Marathon, the MR8 5K in Dorchester, and numerous other events designed to commemorate the bombing throughout the region served as additional impediments to Tsarnaev’s ability to receive a fair trial.

The media frenzy that developed around the arrival of his Russian relatives made it even it more difficult for him to receive impartial treatment from jurors.

“The media coverage was prejudicial. Many articles conveyed outrage over the supposedly high travel expenses for the witnesses,” the filing says.

The social media usage by jurors portion of the filing was mostly blacked out. This move is not surprising given the veil of secrecy that has covered certain elements of the trial. The filing cited 14 pages of redacted social media evidence that attorneys argue only adds to their case for a new trial at a new venue.

“Put simply, prejudicial media coverage, events, and environment saturated greater Boston, including the social networks of actual jurors, and made it an improper venue for the trial of this case,” the filing says.

Tsarnaev was convicted in April and sentenced to death in May. He is currently being housed in a concrete box at ADX Florence in Colorado.

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2015/08/18/in-appeal-filing-dzhokhar-tsarnaev-blames-venue-social-media-for-conviction/