BOSTON — A Dorchester, Massachusetts, woman started to break down during questioning on Friday at the trial of accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as she discussed Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy who was one of three people who died in the blast near the 2013 Boston Marathon finish line.
The woman — who was identified only as Juror 40 and who appeared to be white and in her mid- to late thirties — said she did not personally know the Richard family, also of Dorchester, but met Martin once at a volunteer event. She fought back tears as she told the judge she was "surprised I was called" to be on the jury.
On the day of the 2013 marathon, the prospective juror said she was at the Westin Hotel in Copley Square, shorter than a five-minute walk from where the bombs went off. She said she knew many of the runners through her nonprofit organization and went to search for them at the finish line.
"It was a long couple of days," she said.
The woman began to break down as she struggled to say she felt "personally affected" by the events surrounding the bombing. Then she began to cry.
Tsarnaev, seated just a few feet from the woman, did not appear to react, continuing to look down at his lap.
After Judge George O'Toole asked the woman to step out, she was not brought back in for more questioning.
While Juror 40's was the only outpouring of emotion by any of the 34 jurors questioned over the first two days of phase two of jury selection, she was just one example of several prospective jurors who have with close ties to the race and what happened on April 15, 2013.
One juror said she lives three houses down from Richard Deslauriers, the Boston FBI agent who was the bureau's point man during the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers.
One juror said he works for John Hancock and discussed how his company was a major sponsor of the race. Another juror said he attended an event for the One Fund, the fundraising organization created to aid the victims, in the months following the bombing. He said he made a donation of $50 to $75.
Another juror said he's run in four Boston Marathons and pointed out that he lives near the race's starting line in Hopkinton. He said he thought he could put his love for the race aside, but he was "not %100" sure.
While Juror 40's outpouring of emotion almost surely eliminated her from the jury pool, it was unclear what would come of the other candidates who seemed less troubled by their personal connections to the race.
With the entire pool of potential jurors living a maximum two hours from Boylston Street, the judge and attorneys selecting the jury may have to settle with candidates who think they can put their connections aside, but aren't 100% sure.