October 29, 2013

Boston bombing suspect’s friend wants evidence public

Azamat Tazhayakov is one of two men accused of removing evidence from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room and later lying about it.

The Associated Press

BOSTON — A lawyer for a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a judge Tuesday to lift an order that keeps most court documents against the friend hidden from public view.

click image to enlarge

In this file photo, Azamat Tazhayakov, from left, Dias Kadyrbayev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pose at Times Square in a framegrab from Tsarnaev's page on VKontakt, the Russian equivalent of Facebook. Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev are accused of removing evidence from Tsarnaev's dorm room after the marathon bombing.

McClatchy Newspapers/VKontakt/ZUMA24.com

The lawyer for the friend, Azamat Tazhayakov, argued during a hearing in U.S. District Court that the order is overly broad and that prosecutors haven't shown it is needed. He said the order prohibits him from publicly discussing any materials that prosecutors have given to the defense.

"The defendants have basically been muzzled," said attorney Nicholas Wooldridge.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney John Capin said the order is needed to protect Tazhayakov and another Tsarnaev friend from adverse pretrial publicity.

Prosecutors allege that Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, both friends who attended the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth with Tsarnaev, removed evidence from Tsarnaev's dorm room after the marathon bombing. They have pleaded not guilty to charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. A third Tsarnaev friend, Robel Phillipos, has pleaded not guilty to charges of lying to authorities.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler did not immediately rule on the request to lift the protective order.

Lawyers for Kadyrbayev and Phillipos both told Bowler they are working on an agreement with prosecutors that would loosen the restrictions of the order so that the suspects' family members and defense experts can have greater access to the materials.

Authorities allege that Tsarnaev, 20, and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, planted two pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the marathon on April 15, killing three people and wounding more than 260.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a gun battle with police four days after the bombings. Authorities have said Dzhokhar ran over his brother during a chaotic getaway attempt.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to a 30-count federal indictment charging him with using a weapon of mass destruction. He faces the possibility of the death penalty.

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