Three Charged With Obstructing Justice, Lying To Police, In Connection With Boston Attacks
As I noted earlier, three people were arrested earlier today on charges related to the attacks at the Boston Marathon. At this hour, they are appearing in Federal Court at this hour on charges that they aided Dzhokar Tsarnaey in disposing of evidence related to the bombings and, in one case, lied to law enforcement during the course of the investigation:
Three college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were charged Wednesday with removing a backpack and fireworks from his dorm room or lying about it to the feds.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice. Robel Philipos was charged with making false statements, federal authorities said.
A hearing was scheduled for sometime after 3 p.m. in Boston.
Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev, who are from Kazakhstan, had been detained April 20 on immigration charges. Philipos was taken into custody later.
The men recognized Tsarnaev, 19, from video of the bombing scene released by the FBI and Kadyrbayev texted him about it, a criminal complaint said.
Tsarnaev’s responses included the messages “lol,” “you better not text me” and “come to my room and take whatever you want,” the court document said.
The trio went to Tsarnaev’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, where they found he had already left and were let in by his roommate.
After watching a movie, they spotted a backpack containing seven red tubes of fireworks that had been emptied of their explosive powder and Kadyrbayev decided to take it, according to the complaint. They also took a laptop because they didn’t want to arouse the roommate’s suspicions about the backpack, the complaint said.
Back at his apartment, the three friends “started to freak out” because they realized Tsarnaev was wanted in the bombing, Philipos said, according to the feds.
They then “collectively decided to throw the backpack and fireworks into the trash because they did not want Tsarnaev to get in trouble,” Kadyrbaev told agents, according to the complaint.
Kadyrbaev allegedly put the items in a large trash bag and tossed it into a dumpster near his apartment.
There was no indication the three men had any prior knowledge of the bombing, although the complaint does note that a month before the attack, Tsarnaev told Kadyrbaev and Tazhayakov that the “knew how to make a bomb.”
These charges are fairly low end criminal charges. The obstruction charges carry a maximum sentences of five years in prison, while the lying to law enforcement charge carries a maximum sentence of eight years in prison, apparently because it consists of lying in connection with a terrorism investigation. These charges also seem to be an indication that the authorities continue to believe that the Tsarnaev brothers acted alone in carrying out the actual attack, a fact that seems ever further confirmed by the fact that Dzhokhar had left behind crucial evidence related to his attack in his dorm room and didn’t think to do anything about it until he and his brother were about to make a run for it. As for these three individuals, I would suspect that their ultimate sentences will be less than the maximum if they are agreeing to cooperate, although the two Kazakh students are likely to face consequences for the fact that they were in violation of the terms of their student visas. Indeed, if by some course of events Dhzokhar’s case does go to trial, I would expect to see all three of these guys testifying against him after striking a plea deal.
Here’s a copy of the Complaint: