BOSTON — Many prospective jurors in the trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have expressed anger over the attack and compassion for the people who were killed and injured in the explosions.
But on Friday, traces of sympathy for Tsarnaev emerged during questioning. Two potential jurors — mirroring a defense claim — said they wondered whether Tsarnaev was led into participating in the bombings through his admiration for his older brother, Tamerlan. Prosecutors say Dzhokhar, then 19, and Tamerlan, 26, carried out the bombings to retaliate against the U.S. for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when two bombs exploded near the marathon finish line on April 15, 2013.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a gunbattle with police days after the bombings.
One prospective juror, a self-employed construction contractor, said he has two brothers and three sisters and "can relate" to looking up to an older brother. He described how his brother liked to drink and how he "thought that was a really great thing to do."
"Someone I looked up to led me in that direction," he said.
The man seemed to quickly change course when he mentioned his 5-year-old grandson. He said he can't help but think of Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy who was killed in the bombing.
"It comes back to me that it was a very selfish act of some people to have robbed a child of their life like that," he said.
Another prospective juror, a freelance journalist, said she is opposed to the death penalty and doesn't think she could consider sentencing Tsarnaev to death.
"I'm not sure about his motivation and his psychological state and his relationship with his brother. I know what the media told me, but I don't know the whole story, really," she said.
Later, she said she was sad to know that the only other alternative for Tsarnaev is life in prison without the possibility of release.
"It's sad to me even that there's not a chance of parole for him," she said.
Others questioned Friday said they could not be impartial because they already believe Tsarnaev is guilty.
One man said he has several friends in the Arlington Police Department who participated in the manhunt for Tsarnaev.
"I think just from what I've read and heard and seen prior to being called in as a juror, I think I've formed a pretty strong opinion," he said.
Many people questioned during jury selection have spoken of obvious conflicts, including financial hardships, strong opposition to the death penalty and personal connections to the marathon, victims or first responders who treated those injured in the blasts.
Judge George O'Toole Jr. has questioned 193 prospective jurors. He said that as of Friday, 54 people have been provisionally qualified, meaning they will move on to the next round of jury selection.
O'Toole has said he wants to provisionally qualify 70 people before prosecutors and Tsarnaev's lawyers will be allowed to eliminate up to 23 people each for strategic reasons. A panel of 12 jurors and six alternates will be chosen.
Jury selection is scheduled to resume Tuesday.
Also Friday, Tsarnaev's lawyers asked the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston to have the full court hear their request to move the trial out of Massachusetts. A three-judge panel agreed to hold a hearing next week.
Tsarnaev's lawyers have repeatedly argued that he cannot get a fair trial in Massachusetts because of the emotional impact the deadly attack had here.