BOSTON — Halfway through the first session Monday of what likely will be an arduous and lengthy jury selection process, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stood and was introduced by the federal judge in the Boston Marathon bombings case.

Gone was his orange prison jumpsuit, and instead the 21-year-old Russian immigrant and former college student appeared like any young man – neatly dressed in a brown sweater and white slacks, his beard trimmed, his brown thick hair tousled.

As the first group of 200 potential jurors in his capital murder case strained for a good look, Tsarnaev tilted his head, crossed his hands and seemed, if anything, a bit bored, maybe somewhat aloof. But he showed no expression, not the anger that others recall of him in the days after the April 2013 bombings or the dazed and gravely injured fugitive caught hiding in a boat in a Boston suburb.

Then he sat down.

Judge George A. O’Toole Jr., gazing across the packed jury assembly hall in the federal courthouse next to the Boston waterfront, told the potential jurors from the Boston community that if they are chosen to sit in the trial, they must leave behind any preconceived notions of guilt or innocence, any biases or emotional scars in the last 21 months, and give Tsarnaev a fair trial.

O’Toole said that it will be the jury and not he, the lawyers, the press or the local community still grappling with the worst terror assault since Sept. 11, 2001, that will decide if he is guilty and if so, whether Tsarnaev lives or dies.

“What you do need is a commitment to justice,” he told the group.

As part of the jury selection process, some 200 potential jurors will be brought twice a day into the assembly hall to hear the judge give the same speech about citizenship and constitutional duty, and each time Tsarnaev will again stand and make a formal introduction to those who might decide his fate.

In all, 1,200 candidates have been summoned. They are expected to begin appearing for further questioning next week, and O’Toole said he hopes to start trial testimony by Jan. 26. He told the group that the trial itself could last from three to four months.

The candidates are given lengthy questionnaires to fill out, and the judge admonished them to answer “thoughtfully, honestly and completely.” He warned them, “Your answers must be truthful and signed under penalty of perjury.”


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