The trial for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been set for Nov. 3 this year, a federal judge said today.
Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 charges relating to the deadly dual bombing last April, an attack prosecutors say he carried out with his older brother, Tamerlan. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police days after the bombing.
Three people were killed, including an eight-year-old boy, and more than 260 were injured when twin explosions ripped through the crowds near the finish line of the Boston Marathon April 15.
Last month Attorney General Eric Holder authorized government prosecutors to seek the death penalty against the younger Tsarnaev.
"I think it is a realistic and a fair [trial date]," U.S. District Court Judge George O'Toole said of his ruling today. "I will say to both sides this will be undoubtedly be a lengthy trial."
Marc Fucarile was one of the victims near the finish line with a group of friends from his hometown of Stoneham when the blasts were detonated. He lost his left leg above the knee and suffered permanent hearing loss, along with shrapnel wounds and burns. His friends, brothers JP and Paul Norden, also each lost a leg.
The Stoneham firefighter left the court on crutches and said he thought the trial should start much sooner.
"Why not? I think everybody should be on the same page. It's pretty cut and dry with the evidence. Don't waste everybody's time," he said.
Outside the courthouse, some supporters of Tsarnaev said they still believe the teen is innocent. One woman, Karen Figueroa, 36, drove to the federal courthouse in South Boston from New York City to show her support. Figueroa has been writing to Tsarnaev at Fort Devens, the federal facility where he has been held since he was captured.
Tsarnaev has not written back.
"They won't let him write letters which is wrong,'' Figueroa said. "I'm not one of these girls who thinks he is a rock star. He's accused of terrorism. It's serious. I just think he could be my little brother."
MIT Police Chief John DiFava was also in court. He told ABC News that he supports the death penalty decision and wants the case to go to trial "as soon as possible."
In addition to federal murder and terrorism charges, after the bombing Tsarnaev is also accused of murdering MIT Police Officer Sean Collier in cold blood as he sat in his cruiser on campus.
"I'm here to represent Sean,'' DiFava said.
The next status conference hearing will take place on June 18 - which will also be the date defense attorneys can request a change of venue, O'Toole told the court.
Defense attorneys want access to 2,000 evidentiary items related to the bombing currently being reviewed at FBI Quantico.
"It's not a matter of courtesy,'' said defense attorney Judith Clarke, "it's a matter of case law."
The evidence at Quantico is in addition to 600-800 discovery items that have already been catalogued.
Michele McPhee is a freelance reporter based in Boston.