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Uphill Battle for Defense of Marathon Bomb Suspect

(Photo: FBI via AP)

(Photo: FBI via AP)

By SHARON COHEN
AP National Writer

The overwhelming amount of physical evidence, including video surveillance footage and photos, showing the Boston Marathon bomb suspect at the scene of the blast will present daunting challenges for anyone representing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, defense lawyers say.

Attorneys who handle terrorism and other notorious cases say public opinion is stacked against the defense for obvious reasons. Acts of terrorism unleash an outpouring of anger from the public, including potential jurors. And in Boston, the circumstances are especially horrific: Three people, including an 8-year-old boy, died in the April 15 twin blasts, more than 260 were injured, and a campus police officer was later fatally shot.

The evidence, lawyers say, make a “he wasn’t there” innocence claim untenable. Some focus instead on mitigation, including the possible influence of the suspect’s older brother. They say the best strategy may be to look for ways to keep Tsarnaev out of the death chamber.

Tsarnaev was charged Monday with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill in the bombings. He could face the death penalty if convicted.