As jury selection resumed Thursday in the federal death penalty trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a prosecutor accused one of Tsarnaev’s lawyers of trying to “encourage” a hung jury.
Assistant US Attorney William Weinreb said attorney David Bruck asked a “wholly inappropriate” question when he probed a man with a supervisory job about whether he would listen to the opinions of other jurors.
Weinreb told Judge George O’Toole Jr. he viewed Bruck’s question as an “instruction” that no juror could change another juror’s view about whether the death penalty would be an appropriate punishment.
Bruck said he was merely asking the juror if he understood that in the end, all jurors have to make their own decisions. Bruck said it was appropriate to ask if the juror could respect the fact that other jurors might have different moral views.
Judge George O’Toole Jr. said the questions asked by lawyers in the case should be aimed at discovering bias or some other issue that would disqualify them as serving as jurors in Tsarnaev’s trial.
Tsarnaev, 21, is accused in the 2013 bombing that killed three people and injured more than 260. He has pleaded not guilty.
The testiness between the two sides came on the eighth day of questioning prospective jurors. O’Toole has questioned 105 people so far, but has not revealed how many of those people have been excused.
Many have said they can’t be impartial because they already believe Tsarnaev is guilty or have said they would be unwilling to impose the death penalty under any circumstance. In order to be seated on the jury, jurors must express a willingness to consider both the death penalty and life in prison as possible punishments.
Jury selection was suspended for two days this week as a blizzard dumped two feet of snow in Boston.
On Thursday, O’Toole, prosecutors and Tsarnaev’s lawyers questioned seven prospective jurors, including an events planner and former social worker who said she could keep an open mind about Tsarnaev and had not yet formed an opinion on whether he should receive the death penalty if he is convicted.
“If it was myself or someone I knew who was in this situation … I would want that fair trial,” she said.
Jury selection is set to resume Friday.