BOSTON — Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev destroyed his cellphone before being arrested, a lawyer for one of Tsarnaev’s friends said in court Monday.
The information was disclosed during a pretrial hearing in U.S. District Court as lawyers for three of Tsarnaev’s friends asked a judge to order prosecutors to turn over a variety of records and documents to the defense.
The defense requested all communications between Tsarnaev and the three men, as well as all communications between Tsarnaev and other people.
Authorities allege that the friends went to Tsarnaev’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth several days after the bombings, soon after the FBI posted photographs of the two bombing suspects, Tsarnaev and his older brother.
Two of the friends, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both Kazakhstan nationals, are charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy for allegedly removing Tsarnaev’s laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks from his dorm room. Another friend, Robel Phillipos, of Cambridge, is charged with lying to authorities while he was being questioned.
All three men have pleaded not guilty and their lawyers have said they had no prior knowledge of Tsarnaev’s alleged involvement in the marathon bombing.
Robert Stahl, Kadyrbayev’s lawyer, said prosecutors told defense attorneys that Tsarnaev destroyed his cellphone before his arrest. Stahl said that in other cases he’s had, some text messages have been retrieved from cellphones through a service provider. He asked Judge Douglas Woodlock to ask prosecutors to seek those text messages and turn them over to the defense.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Siegmann said prosecutors have already given the defense text messages between Tsarnaev and the three friends taken from the cellphones of the friends.
“I believe the messages we’ve given them are all we could get,” Siegmann told the judge.
Woodlock said the defense was not entitled to get text messages between Tsarnaev and anyone else because they would not be relevant to the defendants’ cases.
Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges in last year’s marathon bombing. Authorities say he and his older brother built two pressure-cooker bombs and placed them near the finish line. The blasts killed three people and injured more than 260.