Boston Marathon bomb victims memorial on Boylston St. (Photo: Sheri Qualters / NLJ)
A federal judge on Wednesday set a June 23 trial date for three friends accused of covering up for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The three are accused of taking various steps to help Tsarnaev several days after the April 15 bombings that killed three and injured more than 260. One defendant, Azamat Tazhayakov, had sought a July trial date, asserting his right to a speedy trial. The other two defendants, Dias Kadyrbayev and Robel Phillipos, sought a January 2015 date.
U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock ruled on the motion and set numerous case deadlines. “The defendants are entitled to a prompt trial, as prompt as can reasonably be provided by the court,” he said.
All three attended the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with Tsarnaev. Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev were charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstructing justice for allegedly disposing of evidence related to the bombing.
The two are accused of removing Tsarnaev’s laptop and a backpack containing fireworks from his dorm room several days after the bombing. They allegedly took it to their apartment, where Kadyrbayev threw away the items with Tazhayakov’s agreement and knowledge.
Phillipos is charged with making false statements in a terrorism investigation; authorities say he lied to the FBI about going to Tsarnaev’s dorm room as the investigation unfolded.
During the hearing, Woodlock and Kadyrbayev’s lawyer, Robert Stahl of Westfield, N.J., questioned whether the defense lawyers would have enough time to get through the voluminous discovery provided by the government. “I would be remiss in not reviewing things—because what I don’t know, that’s what comes back and hurts me,” he said.
“Seasoned experienced counsel knows what’s important and devotes time to that. This is more than an adequate time to get the case prepared for motions and for trial,” Woodlock replied.
Woodlock later ordered the government to provide a list of key documents to the defendants and an efficient and cost-effective way for them to search the materials.
“We’ve got a schedule that’s workable,” Woodlock said.
Sheri Qualters can be contacted at email@example.com.