Protesters Few, Crush of Media as Boston Bombing Trial Begins

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Kaitlin Flanigan

The trial of the Boston bombing suspect got underway Wednesday morning with a crush of media and a lone protester outside the Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston.

Joe Kebartas stood before the proceedings began with a sign reading “Death penalty is murder.”

“The government should not be in the business of putting people to death,” he said before slipping away.

Security was tight with a blockade on Northern Avenue and a bomb-sniffing police dog along the barricade holding back journalists from as far as Russia and France. The U.S. Coast Guard was patrolling Boston Harbor behind the courthouse.

Survivors of the April 2013 bombings arrived by Massport buses, normally used to shuttle travelers to Logan International Airport, and were taken into the courthouse through the back.

The federal death penalty trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, begins nearly two years after two bombs exploded seconds apart at the finish of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring more than 260 others. He is accused of detonating them with his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed afterward in a shoot-out with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was later found hiding in a boat.

The courtroom was crowded with relatives of victims and of Tsarnaev and others. When Tsarnaev walked across the courtroom shortly after 9 a.m. some of the survivors stared intently.

Jury selection took nearly two months, with Tsarnaev’s legal team arguing repeatedly that it would be impossible for their client to receive a fair trial in Boston.

In opening statements, his lawyers are expected to portray him as an impressionable 21-year-old in the sway of his older, radicalized brother. He followed the 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s lead, the lawyers hope to show.

The prosecution counters that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was as much a participant as his brother.

Alysha Palumbo contributed to this report.

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