Criminal Justice

Friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber is convicted of obstructing justice

A friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber has been convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice for removing a backpack from the bombing suspect’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Azamat Tazhayakov, 20, was convicted on Monday, report the New York Times and the Boston Globe. He is the first of three college students who were friends of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to face trial for allegedly seeking to stymie investigators, the Boston Globe says.

Tazhayakov was accused of accompanying a friend to Tsarnaev’s dorm room after the FBI released Tsarnaev’s photo in an effort to identify him. According to prosecutors, the friend, Dias Kadyrbayev, showed Tazhayakov a text from Tsarnaev asking Kadyrbayev to “go to my room and take what’s there.”

Prosecutors alleged Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev removed a backpack with firecrackers and a laptop from the room, but jurors convicted Tazhayakov only for removing the backpack. One juror said jurors believed the laptop was removed for possible resale, rather than to protect Tsarnaev, the Globe reports. The FBI found the backpack in a landfill. Prosecutors claim the bombs made by the Tsarnaev brothers were made with gunpowder emptied from fireworks.

Defense lawyers had argued it was Kadyrbayev who searched Tsarnaev’s dorm room and removed evidence. They claimed Tazhayakov was only an observer and didn’t realize his friend was planning to remove incriminating evidence.

Kadyrbayev will be tried in September.

Tazhayakov faces up to 20 years in prison on the obstruction charge and up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge. His sentencing is set for Oct. 16.

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