Prospective juror has sympathy for Tsarnaev, says maybe 'he just made a really big mistake'


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FILE - This file photo provided Friday, April 19, 2013 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The process of finding "death qualified" jurors has slowed down jury selection in federal case against Tsarnaev, who is charged with setting off two bombs that killed three people and injured more than 260 during the 2013 marathon. (AP Photo/FBI, File)

BOSTON — Many of the first 100 prospective jurors questioned in the federal death penalty trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have said they can't be impartial because they already believe he's guilty or have a personal connection to the attack that would make it difficult to be objective.

On Friday, the judge, prosecutors and Tsarnaev's lawyers heard a different perspective: a woman who said she has sympathy for Tsarnaev.

The woman, a 51-year-old former software engineer who now raises chickens, cited Tsarnaev's youth — he was 19 at the time of the attack — and said she would not be able to sentence him to death.

"I could see Jeffrey Dahmer after a lifetime of killing people — he needs to be put to death — but this kid is so young, and I wonder if he just made a really big mistake," she said. "I guess that's my biggest qualm."

The woman said her daughter's ex-boyfriend went to high school with Tsarnaev.

"It's like seeing my own kid in court," she said of Tsarnaev.

Judge George O'Toole Jr. did not indicate whether the woman would be excused. He has not said how many of the people questioned so far have been dismissed and how many have made it to the final phase of jury selection, when prosecutors and Tsarnaev's lawyers will be able to eliminate a certain number of jurors for strategic reasons.

Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when two bombs exploded near the marathon finish line on April 15, 2013.

Tsarnaev, now 21, has pleaded not guilty. He is charged with 30 federal crimes, including 17 that carry the possibility of the death penalty.

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