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Jury selection starts for Boston Marathon bombing trial

Jury selection is set to begin Monday in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the man accused of carrying out the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. (Video: Reuters)

Nearly two years after a pair of bombs detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the trial of one of the accused bombers began Monday morning with jury selection.

Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev faces 30 charges for the April 2013 attack and its aftermath, counts that include using a weapon of mass destruction. He is also charged with shooting and killing Sean Collier, an MIT campus police officer.

A pool of about 1,200 jurors will be filing into the federal courthouse over the coming days, a massive group that is going to be whittled down to 18 people (a dozen jurors and six alternates). The trial is expected to begin later this month and could last for up to four months, the judge said Monday.

Tsarnaev, now 21, and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, were identified by the FBI days after the attack. Not long after, the Tsarnaev brothers got into a shootout with police in Watertown, Mass. The older Tsarnaev was killed, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev went on the run, sparking a manhunt that froze much of the Boston region for nearly a day before he was found hiding in a boat near a home outside Boston.

In December, Tsarnaev was in court for a final hearing before jury selection, his first public appearance in more than a year. He returned on Monday morning, seated before the first set of potential jurors.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Tsarnaev, even though capital punishment was abolished in Massachusetts nearly a decade before he was born. The Justice Department said last year it would seek the death penalty due to “the nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement. Carmen M. Ortiz, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, said at the time that the decision to seek the death penalty followed a careful review of the case.

As the trial for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is set to start Monday, survivor Heather Abbott says she's determined to face him. (Video: Reuters)

Tsarnaev’s attorneys had pushed to have the trial delayed (again) and relocated, arguing that it should be moved because the publicity surrounding the bombings made it hard to believe unbiased jurors could be located. Last week, District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. denied both requests; he did the same thing in September, when he determined that “a fair and impartial jury” could be found despite the media coverage. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit in Boston upheld his decision on Saturday.