Two college friends of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who allegedly disposed of evidence were indicted on Thursday. A third, accused of lying to the FBI, asked to waive a hearing pending plea negotiations.
Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both 19 and nationals of Kazakhstan, were charged by a District of Massachusetts grand jury with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstructing justice. The two, who attended the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with Tsarnaev, were living in New Bedford. Mass., on student visas.
The pair went to Tsarnaev’s dorm room on April 18 after getting a text message from him to “Take what’s there,” according to the indictment. They allegedly removed his laptop and a backpack containing fireworks and took it to their apartment. Kadyrbayev allegedly threw away the items with Tazhayakov’s agreement and knowledge.
Both men face up to 20 years in prison on the obstruction count and up to five years in prison on the conspiracy count, plus three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Their arraignment was set for August 13.
Tazhayakov’s lawyer, Arkady Bukh of Brooklyn, N.Y., said his client “is absolutely denying his involvement in the crime. Even in the government allegation, my client never even touched the evidence.”
In a written statement, Kadyrbayev’s lawyer, Robert G. Stahl, wrote that the indictment was not unexpected, but “certainly disappointing.”
“Kadyrbayev did not obstruct justice and did not knowingly or intentionally take evidence from Dzohkhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room,” Stahl wrote. He added that his client “voluntarily turned over the computer” from Tsarnaev’s room and told the FBI where they could find the backpack.
Meanwhile, District of Massachusetts Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler granted Robel Phillipos’ request to waive a scheduled August 12 preliminary hearing.
Phillipos, who also attended U-Mass Dartmouth, was charged with making false statements in a terrorism investigation for allegedly lying to the FBI about visiting the surviving Tsarnaev’s dorm room.
Phillipos's lawyer, Derege Demissie of Demissie & Church of Cambridge, Mass., said in the filing that “the parties are engaged in negotiations aimed at possible resolution of this matter.”
Bowler agreed to house arrest for Phillipos following a May hearing that featured testimony and numerous filings about Phillipos’ character.
Demissie declined to comment and the U.S. Attorneys Office could be immediately reached for comment.
Tsarnaev, 19, pleaded not guilty to 30 charges in July, including 17 that could carry the death penalty.
He and his deceased brother allegedly planted two bombs that killed three and injured more than 260 during the April 15 marathon. Tamerlan, 26, was fatally wounded during an April 19 shootout with police while the two were on the run.
Tsarnaev is also charged with killing Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier April 18 while he and his brother were on the run.
Sheri Qualters can be contacted at email@example.com.