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Azamat Tazhayakov, a college friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was convicted Monday of impeding the investigation into Boston Marathon bombing.
Azamat Tazhayakov was charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy, with prosecutors saying he agreed with a friend’s plan to remove Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s backpack containing altered fireworks from his dorm room a few days after the 2013 bombing.
His trial was the first stemming from the bombing, which killed three and injured more than 260 near the marathon’s finish line. Azamat Tazhayakov’s mother sobbed loudly and rocked in her seat as the jury announced the guilty verdicts, which it reached on the third day of deliberations.
Azamat Tazhayakov’s lawyers argued that it was the other friend, Dias Kadyrbayev, who removed the items from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth dorm room and then threw them away.
Prosecutors told the jury that both men shared in the decision to remove the items and get rid of them to protect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Diaz Kadyrbayev faces a separate trial in September. A third friend, Robel Phillipos, is charged with lying to investigators.
Azamat Tazhayakov was convicted of impeding the investigation into Boston Marathon bombing
During Azamat Tazhayakov’s trial, FBI agents testified that he told them he and Dias Kadyrbayev decided to take the backpack, fireworks and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s laptop computer hours after Kadyrbayev received a text message from Tsarnaev that said he could go to his dorm room and “take what’s there”. The items were removed hours after the FBI released photos and video of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, and identified them as suspects in the bombing.
Azamat Tazhayakov’s lawyer, Matthew Myers, said his client was a naive college kid who was prosecuted because he was a “friend of the bomber”.
Matthew Myers said Azamat Tazhayakov and another friend, Robel Phillipos, sat passively watching a movie in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room as Dias Kadyrbayev took the backpack.
Prosecutors acknowledged that Dias Kadyrbayev is the one who actually threw away the items taken from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s room, but they said Azamat Tazhayakov agreed with the plan.
The backpack and fireworks were later recovered in a New Bedford landfill. Prosecutors said the fireworks had been emptied of their explosive powder – an ingredient that can be used to make bombs.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev escaped, but was found later that day, wounded and hiding in a boat parked in a backyard in nearby Watertown.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty in the bombing and is scheduled to stand trial in November. He faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.
Azamat Tazhayakov is scheduled to be sentenced on October 16. He faces a five-year maximum for conspiracy and 20-year maximum for obstruction but likely will get a lot less under sentencing guidelines.
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev joked with a friend not to text him hours after the FBI released Tsarnaev’s photo as a suspect in the deadly attack, text messages showed.
Dias Kadyrbayev texted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev shortly after the FBI publicly released photos of Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, as suspects in the deadly 2013 attack.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev responded that he had seen the news, then texted: “Better not text me my friend.” Then: “Lol.”
In another text, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told Dias Kadyrbayev he could go to his room and “take what’s there” followed by a smiley face.
Some of the messages had been released previously, but a complete transcript of Dias Kadyrbayev’s text messages in the days after the bombing was released by prosecutors Thursday.
Dias Kadyrbayev texted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev shortly after the FBI publicly released photos of Tsarnaev brothers (photo VKontakte)
Dias Kadyrbayev and another friend, Azamat Tazhayakov, are accused of removing a backpack containing fireworks and a laptop from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth several days after the bombings. A third friend, Robel Phillipos, is accused of lying to investigators.
None of the three men are accused of participating in the bombing or knowing about it ahead of time.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Robel Phillipos declined to testify this week during a hearing over statements they made under questioning by federal agents.
US District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock said Thursday he would not throw out their statements.
Dias Kadyrbayev had been expected to testify Friday, but Judge Douglas Woodlock said that will be postponed until after testimony from an expert witness.
The judge did not rule on Dias Kadyrbayev’s request to suppress statements he made to investigators; his suppression hearing is expected to resume in two weeks.
Prosecutors and the men’s attorneys are arguing over whether the statements were voluntary and can be used as evidence in the upcoming trials. Prosecutors have said the men willingly spoke to federal agents after being told of their right to remain silent and to contact a lawyer. Dias Kadyrbayev’s lawyer, Robert Stahl, has argued that his client, who is from Kazakhstan, did not have a complete command of the English language and did not fully understand the waiver forms he signed.
Three people were killed and more than 260 others injured in two bomb attacks at Boston Marathon in April 2013.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and is awaiting trial in November. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, also a suspect in the bombings, died following a shootout with police several days later.
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Friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Robel Phillipos, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges that they hindered the investigation into the deadly attack.
Authorities allege that the friends went to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth three days after the bombings, soon after the FBI released photographs of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother.
Robel Phillipos, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov are accused in an indictment of removing several items from the room, including Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks.
Robel Phillipos, 19, of Cambridge, was indicted last month on two counts of lying to authorities while he was being questioned.
His lawyers declined to comment after the brief arraignment in U.S. District Court but said in a statement that Robel Phillipos “had nothing to do whatsoever with the Boston Marathon bombing or destroying any evidence”.
“In the end, it will be clear that this prosecution should never have been brought in the first place,” Derege Demissie and Susan Church said in the statement.
Authorities allege that 20-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan, 26, ethnic Chechens from Russia, planned and carried out twin bombings near the finish of the marathon on April 15.
Authorities allege that the friends went to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth three days after Boston Marathon bombings
Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a gun battle with police as authorities closed in on the brothers several days after the bombings.
Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both Kazakhstan nationals, are charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
All four men attended the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.
Robert Stahl, an attorney for Dias Kadyrbayev, said his client was “shocked and horrified” by the bombings and had “no intent” to obstruct justice.
“I’m saying he didn’t dispose of evidence, didn’t understand it was evidence, and the rest will come out at trial,” Roberts Stahl said after the arraignment.
More than two dozen family members and friends attended the hearing to support Robel Phillipos. During an argument for bail in May, his lawyer portrayed him as a frightened and confused young man who was subjected to intense interrogation.
Azamat Tazhayakov’s parents and sister were in court during the brief arraignment. A translator said the family traveled from Kazakhstan in April and plan to remain in the U.S. until the case is resolved.
His attorney, Nicholas Wooldridge, said the government “rushed into things” by charging his client.
“This is a witch hunt,” Nicholas Wooldridge said after his arraignment.
All three men are due back in court on October 29.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Capin said he expects to call about 20 witnesses during a two-week trial. No date has been set yet for it.
American citizen Robel Phillipos is one of the three more suspects arrested last month in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings.
Robel Phillipos’s past and character isn’t as much of a mystery to us as fellow suspects Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, but the question still remains, how did this former daycare worker turn into a suspect?
Seeing what happens to Robel Phillipos, who is an American citizen like his colleague and friend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, will show us how investigators and law officials treat someone who allegedly aided suspect accused of terrorism.
Robel Phillipos, 19, isn’t charged with physically tampering with evidence, more specifically throwing out Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s backpack, but he is being charged with lying to federal investigators over the course of four interviews.
“The only allegation he made is a misrepresentation,” his lawyer Derege Demissie said.
Robel Phillipos and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were classmates even before college. Robel Phillipos, according to school officials who spoke to Bloomberg, was a 2011 graduate of the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also graduated in 2011, and actually received a $2,500 scholarship. What isn’t clear is how close they were in school.
“A yearbook photograph shows a smiling Phillipos. Almost directly in front of him, Tsarnaev stares at the camera – his hand gently resting under his chin,” reads the CNN report, but that doesn’t tell us if or how close Robel Phillipos and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were friends in high school. And though there are multiple reports from friends, neighbors, and people who played basketball with Robel Phillipos, none of them have commented on the type of friendship, if any, that he and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had. He and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were classmates for a brief period at UMass Dartmouth.
Robel Phillipos is one of the three more suspects arrested last month in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings
Robel Phillipos dropped out of School to take care his sick mother.
UMass Dartmouth said that Robel Phillipos, like Dias Kadyrbayev, was not a student at the time of his arrest. But reports say that before he dropped out, he was studying marketing.
“According to a former classmate and friend who worked with Phillipos at a daycare center, Phillipos was attending classes remotely at the time of his arrest because he was staying home to care for his mother, who is ill,” report Erin Baldassari and Amy Saltzman for the Cambridge Chronicle. Though the daycare center where Robel Phillipos worked at isn’t specified, we know he was also active in the Cambridge Kids Council, Cambridge Kids’ Council – a program chaired by the mayor of Cambridge and is, according to its website, “dedicated to developing policy recommendations and programs aimed at improving the quality of life for children, youth and families in the City of Cambridge.”
Robel Phillipos, according to USA Today, was raised by his mother, Genet Bekele, who herself was an immigrant from Ethiopia.
“She is a single mother and works with refugees,” NBC Boston reported, while the Cambridge Chronicle team added: “A devout Protestant, Phillipos’ mother worked directly with refugees and often involved herself in charitable work, the friend said.”
“Do What You Have to Do.”
That’s the phrase that Robel Phillipos is quoted as saying in the criminal complaint. He apparently muttered those words to Dias Kadyrbayev, while discussing what to do with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s backpack. That sounds like reluctance on Robel Phillipos’s part, and according to one of his friends, that’s his catchphrase when he doesn’t like what’s going on. The Chronicle report reads: “One friend said Phillipos wasn’t prone to drama and would often detach himself from sticky situations. Defending allegations that Phillipos lied to investigators to protect Tsarnaev, friends said Phillipos didn’t get in trouble often.
“I know Robel, if he’s not with something, he’s going to say, <<You do you>>. That’s how Robel works,” a friend said, referring to the criminal complaint that quotes Phillipos as reportedly saying, <<Do what you have to do>>.”
Robel Phillipos lived close to the carjacking.
This was mentioned in the initial reports, but Robel Phillipos and his mother lived very close from the carjacking the Tsarnaev brothers committed, which eventually became their undoing.
“The family’s apartment building is located next to the gas station where the carjacking victim from the night of the shootout in Watertown escaped,” reports NBC Boston. There’s no indication from officials that Robel Phillipos did anything more than lie to federal officials, but that’s a strange coincidence to have the Tsarnaev brothers on the loose that night and were in walking distance to their friend’s house.
Robel Phillipos, 19, was released Monday on $100,000 bond and ordered to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet while under house arrest awaiting trial.
Robel Phillipos, friend of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who is accused of lying to FBI investigators, will be released on bail with house arrest, a federal judge has ruled today.
American citizen Robel Phillipos, 19, is to be freed on a $100,000 bond provided he wears an electronic monitoring bracelet and is confined to his home.
He and two other friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were charged last week with hindering the investigation.
Robel Phillipos faces up to eight years in prison if convicted.
Robel Phillipos, friend of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, will be released on bail with house arrest
He is accused of lying to investigators about visiting Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dormitory at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth on April 18, three days after the bombings.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, two other college friends, have been charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by taking a backpack with the remains of fireworks and a laptop from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room before the FBI searched it.
None of the three men are implicated in the planning of the bombings.
In court documents, defense attorneys for Robel Phillipos said their client had nothing to do with the attack and was not a flight risk.
According to a resume filed with the court, Robel Phillipos was studying marketing and sociology at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, and was expected to graduate in 2015.
But the university has said he was not enrolled during the current semester.
In letters filed with the court, friends and family members described Robel Phillipos as peaceful and non-violent.
“I do not believe that my beloved Robel crosses the line intentionally to support or assist such a horrendous act against us the people of the USA,” his aunt, Zewditu Alemu, wrote.
“By nature he does not like violence.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s ex-girlfriend says that she was so attracted to him when she saw him outside that she immediately went over and flirted.
“I met him standing outside a building and honestly, his face was enough to capture my heart. I walked right up to him and I was like, <<Oh my God, you are adorable. Can we hang out?>> I’m very forward,” the girl told Mother Jones.
The girl, who is a fellow UMASS-Dartmouth student that is not releasing her name, started a romantic relationship with Boston Marathon suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev last fall that only lasted about two weeks.
During that time, the girl also met his three friends – Dias Kadyrbayev, Azamat Tazhayakov and Robel Phillipos – who were arrested on Wednesday for destroying evidence and lying to federal investigators.
The girl said that they all looked up to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whom they referred to as “Jahar”.
“They all sort of idolized Jahar,” she said.
Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both Kazakh nationals, were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by destroying evidence. American Robel Phillipos is charged with knowingly and willfully making false statements to investigators.
Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
She said that she met the three other young men through Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, though she described him as being the “leader of his group”.
The girl said that she was shocked by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s involvement in the bombing, as well as any help that he received from his friends.
“There was no indication that they were crazy at all. They just seemed goofy, kind of lackadaisical, not interested in their studies. But, you know, whatever, it was their first semester of college. No one really cared about books,” she said.
Dhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and the unidentified young woman spent their time together involved listening to music and smoking pot, though she says she ended things when he wanted to move faster than she did though she doesn’t consider that as an indication that he was bound to be a killer.
“I don’t think that’s necessarily being a terrorist. I think that’s just called being a hands-y teenaged boy,” she said.
The girl told Mother Jones that she was surprised by implications that the bombing had anything to do with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s religious beliefs as he never mentioned his religion during their time together.
She said that Dias Kadyrbayev, who seemed the closest to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was more conservative as he once made a comment to her at a party about her dress being too revealing.
After Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Dias Kadyrbayev appears to be the most in-command of the group as he was the one who texted.
Dias Kadyrbayev, 19, warned his friend that that he was plastered across television news outlets.
“Tsarnaev’s return texts contained <<lol>> and other things Kadyrbayev interpreted as jokes,” documents say.
On the same day that the FBI released pictures and video clips of the Tsarnaev brothers at the bomb scene, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov removed items from the younger bomber’s dorm room.
That was just two days before the FBI searched the room.
The criminal complaint lists that they removed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s backpack from his room and “agreed to get rid of it after concluding from news reports that Tsarnaev was one of the Boston Marathon bombers”.
The three friends- Dias Kadyrbayev, Azamat Tazhayakov and Robel Phillipos- went over to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s on-campus dormitory after seeing the news reports.
When the group arrived at the dorm, Dias Kadyrbayev showed Azamat Tazhayakov a text from the bomber that said: “I’m about to leave if you need something in my room take it.”
He did not specify where he was going, but Azamat Tazhayakov told investigators that he felt that this meant he would never see Dzhokhar Tsarnaev alive again.
Dias Kadyrbayev “knew when he saw the empty fireworks that Tsarnaev was involved in the Marathon bombing”.
Azamat Tazhayakov, 19, was more alarmed because the tubes had been emptied but not destroyed, meaning that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could have either used the explosives or planned to use them.
Dias Kadyrbayev found Vaseline in the room, which he told the others Dzhokhar Tsarnaev used to make bombs.
At one point in the police interviews, Azamat Tazhayakev said that during a meal a month before the attack, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told him and Dias Kadyrbayev that he knew how to make a bomb.
Dias Kadyrbayev was reportedly the one who “decided to remove the backpack from the room in order to help his friend Tsarnaev avoid trouble”.
In a slightly unexpected explanation, Dias Kadyrbayev says that he took Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s laptop because he did not want to the roommate to think that he was “stealing or behaving suspiciously by just taking the backpack”.
Robel Phillipos has been identified as the American student arrested on Wednesday in the Boston Marathon bombings alongside Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev and charged with making false statements to police and obstructing justice in a terrorism investigation.
Robel Phillipos, 19, is charged with knowingly and willfully making false statements to investigators.
According to the FBI, three friends and schoolmates of detained Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were arrested and charged Wednesday with conspiracy to obstruct justice for throwing away belongings of the latter and lying to investigators.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, both 19 and of New Bedford, and Robel Phillipos, 19, of Cambridge appeared at the U.S. District Court in Boston where a federal magistrate read them the charges and their rights. The three are former students of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also studied.
Robel Phillipos is charged with knowingly and willfully making false statements to investigators in relation with the Boston Marathon bombings
According to an FBI affidavit recounting the charges, Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, who are Kazakhs holding expired student visas, and Robel Phillipos took the laptop and backpack of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from his dorm room on April 18. At the time, the FBI released photos of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, as suspects in the April 15 bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.
Dias Kadyrbayev texted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev joking that he looked like the suspects aired on TV and he replied by texting “LOL” and telling them to go to his room and get whatever they want.
The affidavit cited Robel Phillipos’ testimony to investigators that Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev freaked out upon returning to their apartment in New Bedford as the Tsarnaevs were named suspects.
The three decided to dispose of the backpack, which contained empty fireworks shells believed used by the suspects in making the improvised explosives that remotely detonated near the Boston Marathon finish line. They thought doing so would keep Dzhokhar Tsarnaev out of trouble.
Investigators later found and recovered the backpack and its contents in a landfill after getting a tip.
The affidavit said Dias Kadyrbayev knew Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was involved in the marathon bombings.
Robel Phillipos, for his part, initially told investigators he never went to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room. In a later interview, he admitted going to the dorm room and getting Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s laptop and backpack.
The charges could meet Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev each a 5-year sentence and $250,000 fine if found guilty.
Robel Philippos faces an 8-year sentence and the same amount of fine. The next hearing on the Kazakhs is on May 14 while Robel Phillipos’ next hearing will be on Monday, May 6.