May 2, 2013

FBI: Marathon bombing suspect's friends hindered probe

The three young men are accused of removing evidence after figuring the Tsarnaevs were involved.

By ELLEN YAN and ANN GIVENS Newsday

BOSTON - Three friends decided "collectively" to get rid of a backpack with fireworks tubes emptied of powder, a laptop and other potential evidence they found in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room, hours after learning their friend may have been one of the Boston Marathon bombers, investigators said in court papers charging the trio with federal crimes.

Boston Marathon Explosions
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UMass-Dartmouth students stand outside last month after authorities evacuated the dormitory where Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lived.

The Associated Press file photo

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Richard Donohue

WOUNDED TRANSIT OFFICER EXPECTS FULL RECOVERY

BOSTON - A transit police officer critically injured during a shootout with the Boston Marathon bombing suspects is thanking those who saved his life.

In a statement released Wednesday by the Massachusetts Bay Transporation Authority, Officer Richard Donohue thanked fellow officers and emergency responders "who put their lives on the line to save mine" and medical experts who "miraculously brought me back to life."

A bullet to his groin severed a leg artery early on April 19, and Donohue nearly bled to death.

Donohoe said he expects to fully recover, and he's well enough to tell jokes and use a walker. He said doctors will leave the bullet in his leg.

Donohue sent condolences to the family of MIT Officer Sean Collier, allegedly slain by the bombing suspects. Donohue said he and Collier were police academy classmates.

– The Associated Press

By the night of April 18, a few days after the bombing, several clues had convinced Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both from Kazakhstan, and Robel Phillipos, a U.S. citizen from Cambridge, Mass., that Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan were the bombers sought in a massive manhunt, according to court complaints, signed by an FBI agent on the case.

Beyond FBI photos of the Tsarnaevs, the court filings lay out how the three 19-year-old men quickly tied Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to the attack: Tsarnaev's comment a month before the marathon that he knew how to make a bomb, his text messages after the bombing saying they could take his belongings because he was "about to leave," and potential bomb-making material in his dorm room, court papers said.

After authorities publicized the bombing suspects' images about 5 p.m. April 18, the three men went to Tsarnaev's dorm room and were let in by a roommate, papers said.

"Kadyrbayev decided to remove the backpack from the room in order to help his friend Tsarnaev avoid trouble," the complaint said. "He decided to take Tsarnaev's laptop as well because he did not want Tsarnaev's roommate to think he was stealing or behaving suspiciously by just taking the backpack."

At the New Bedford apartment shared by Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov, the three friends discussed what to do with the items, and about 10 p.m., Kadyrbayev threw a black trash bag containing the backpack and fireworks into a trash bin near his apartment, court papers said.

Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov were charged with willfully conspiring to commit an offense against the United States by destroying or concealing items to impede or influence a criminal investigation.

Phillipos was charged with knowingly and willfully making materially false statements to investigators by lying, saying he had not gone into his friend's dorm room and did not remember anything being removed.

The three men were not accused of planning or participating in the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and wounded more than 260 on April 15.

Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and $250,000 fine. Phillipos faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The three appeared Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Boston, shackled hand and foot. They voluntarily waived a bail hearing and said they can afford lawyers. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov are due back on court May 14 and Phillipos for a bail and probable cause hearing Monday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Seigmann said Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov were here on student visas and had violated the terms of those visas. She described them as serious flight risks and said they may obstruct justice because they have already been accused of doing so.

But Kadyrbayev's lawyer, Robert Stahl, said in court that he disputes that his client is here illegally and will fight removal proceedings against him.

After the hearing, Stahl said Kadyrbayev was "as shocked by the violence as the rest of the community" and did not know the items he allegedly removed were potential evidence.

"He did not know that those items were involved in a bombing," Stahl said in a news conference.

"He assisted the FBI. He is very sorry for what happened here in Boston. He did not have anything to do with that."

(Continued on page 2)

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