BOSTON – Courtroom nine of the federal courthouse was packed with victims, family members, media and members of the general public when defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev walked into the room shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Spectators began lining up at 5 a.m. as the entire city awaited opening statements in the trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

His beard was trimmed and partially shaven. He wore an open-necked collared shirt and dark sport jacket. He smiled very slightly when greeting his attorneys. He did not look at the crowd, but took his seat facing forward.

Hours earlier, Marissa Babin of Malden, Mass. was one of the first in line. She was prepared for the elements in a Boston Bruins winter cap and purple down-feather coat.

“This is one of the biggest trials in Boston history, if not the biggest,” said Babin, a 25-year-old administrative assistant at a local law firm. “I’m just really interested in this trial. [The bombings] definitely did affect everyone in Boston and in this area.”

Security at the courthouse was exceptionally tight. Boston police closed off streets that are normally open, even during big trials. Barricades kept the public at a distance as a bus unloaded spectators, presumed to be bombing victims or family members, to enter through a side entrance.

Dogs howled inside law enforcement SUVs as K-9 units from Boston Police and Homeland Security waited to run their bomb-sniffing sweeps. A helicopter patrolled the skies, and police boats kept watch in the Boston Harbor.

At 7:30, around 40 people were lined up and began filing into the courthouse. The court set up three overflow public viewing areas for screening the proceedings with capacity to seat 420 viewers.

Almost two years after the bombing that killed three, injured more than 260 and rocked the entire city, a panel of 12 jurors and six alternates was seated Tuesday.

Tsarnaev, 21, faces 30 charges in connection with twin bombings at the finish line of the marathon April 15, 2013. Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured. He is also charged in the killing of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer days after the bombings.

If the jury convicts Tsarnaev, the trial will move on to a second phase to determine his punishment. The only two options available for the jury are life in prison or the death penalty.

Tsarnaev’s defense lawyers tried four times to have the trial moved out of Boston, arguing that the scale of the attack was so vast that every potential juror could already know the case on a personal level. It was the largest act of terrorism in Boston’s history, and its effects rippled across the region.

The death penalty has been outlawed since 1984 in Massachusetts, but Tsarnaev could be sentenced to death because he’s being tried in federal, not state, court. A 2013 Boston Globe poll found just 33% of Bostonians believe Tsarnaev should get the death penalty if he’s convicted. Polls from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst found more support statewide: In 2013 and again in 2014, 59% of respondents said Tsarnaev should get the death penalty if he is found guilty.

If a jury can’t reach consensus on any counts in the guilt phase, the result is a mistrial and the case is tried again. In the penalty phase, a hung jury would mean life in prison with no chance of parole if Tsarnaev has been convicted on the most serious charges.

If any case can get a Massachusetts jury behind a death sentence, this might be it. According to the 30-count indictment, Tsarnaev conspired with his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed as they tried to escape police, to detonate two inexpensive pressure-cooker bombs that wrought havoc near the Marathon finish line. Seventeen of the counts carry the death penalty.

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