Three friends of surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have been charged following their arrest on Wednesday.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev (Thank God I’m not in the media where you have to pronounce these names, or I would just have to refer to them as “Frick” and “Frack”) are charged with conspiring to obstruct justice. A third man, Robel Phillipos, is charged with making false statements to federal investigators.
According to an affidavit, Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev agreed to get rid of a backpack containing fireworks that had been emptied of gun powder at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth three days after the attack.
National Post reports,
Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev have been held in jail for more than a week on allegations that they violated their student visas while attending college. Linda Cristello, the Boston attorney who represented them at a hearing on the immigration case Wednesday morning, confirmed earlier that they were facing separate federal charges.
All three men charged Wednesday began attending UMass with Tsarnaev at the same time in 2011, the FBI affidavit says.
Authorities allege that on the night of April 18, after the FBI released photos of the bombing suspects and the three men suspected their friend was one of them, they went to Tsarnaev’s dorm room. The men noticed a backpack containing fireworks, which had been opened and emptied of powder.
Kadyrbayev decided to remove the backpack from his room “in order to help his friend Tsarnaev avoid trouble.” He also took Tsarnaev’s laptop computer.
Upon arriving back at their apartment, the three men viewed photographs of the Tsarnaevs on television reports and “collectively decided to throw the backpack and fireworks into the trash because they did not want Tsarnaev to get into trouble,” according to authorities.
Kadyrbayev then took the backpack and fireworks, along with other trash from the apartment and threw it into a garbage bin near their apartment.
Fox News reports,
When the alleged Boston Marathon bomber was told by one of his friends that he resembled one of the suspects in the widely released surveillance video, he sent a chilling response: “Lol, you better not text me,” an affidavit unsealed Wednesday said.
Although the three new suspects initially appear to have stonewalled authorities, Phillipos came clean in a fourth interview, conducted April 26. He confessed that the three took the backpack out of their friend’s dorm room, according to the affidavit. Phillipos allegedly told investigators that the two others “started to freak out” after seeing Tsarnaev identified on television.
Robert Stahl, an attorney representing Kadyrbayev, said his client denies the allegations and added that Kadyrbayev assisted authorities in their investigation.
“He is just as shocked and horrified by the violence that took place in Boston as the rest of the community is,” Stahl said. “He did not have anything to do with it.”
Prior to the latest development, authorities had named only the brothers as suspects in the bombing at the finish line of the world-famous race.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov face maximum sentences of five years in prison and fines of $250,000. Phillipos, a U.S. citizen, faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Finally, Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s widow, Katherine Russell, is currently with her family. However, FBI agents discovered female DNA on at least one of the bombs. The Wall Street Journal reports,
Investigators have found female DNA on at least one of the bombs used in the Boston Marathon attacks, though they haven’t determined whose DNA it is or whether its presence means a woman helped the two brothers suspected in the bombings, according to U.S. officials briefed on the probe.
Speaking Monday about the DNA discovery, the U.S. officials cautioned that there could be multiple explanations for why genetic material from someone other than the two bombing suspects—Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar—could have been found on remnants of the exploded devices. It could have come, for example, from a store clerk who handled materials used in the bombs or a stray hair that ended up in the bomb.
One official familiar with the case said agents went to the house Monday to collect a DNA sample from Ms. Russell, the culmination of days of negotiations. FBI officials also have been negotiating with Ms. Russell’s attorney in recent days to gain fuller access to question her, the officials familiar with the case said. The officials said the DNA request was needed to determine whether it matched the DNA found on the bomb remnants.
Should there be a match, Russell faces arrest and prosecution.