Friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect expected to testify in effort to suppress evidence

Paige Sutherland / The Associated Press
May 13, 2014 11:30 PM

Robel Phillipos, a college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, leaves federal court after a hearing Tuesday, May 13, 2014, in Boston. Phillipos, of Cambridge, Mass., is charged with lying to investigators after last year's fatal bombing. Judge Douglas Woodlock ruled Tuesday that separate trials will be held for Phillipos and two other of Tsarnaev's friends, Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, but that their trials do not need to be moved out of Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

BOSTON - A college friend of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect could testify in court in an effort to suppress evidence for his own upcoming trial, which a judge ruled does not need to be moved from Massachusetts in order to be fair.

Dias Kadyrbayev is charged with tampering with evidence for removing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's laptop and a backpack containing fireworks from his dorm room at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth shortly after last year's bombing.

He is expected to take the stand Wednesday, a day after U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock ruled that a motion of suppression will not be considered without the defendant being questioned by the prosecution. Two other friends of Tsarnaev who've been charged, Azamat Tazhayakov and Robel Phillipos, declined to testify. Their attorneys said they likely will revisit the suppression motion at trial.

Robert Stahl, who represents Kadyrbayev, said the confessions were obtained without a lawyer present, under strenuous and lengthy circumstances and without a search or arrest warrant.

FBI agent John Walker, who questioned Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov days after the bombings, testified Tuesday that the two men agreed to be questioned and that Kadyrbayev consented in a written statement that the FBI could search the apartment. But the defence argues that there was enough time to obtain an official search warrant.

According to Walker a signal from one of Tsarnaev's cellphones led investigators to believe he was hiding inside the friends' apartment.

The three men will be tried separately in Massachusetts starting with Tazhayakov on June 30, followed by Kadyrbayev on Sept. 8 and Phillipos on Sept. 29.

Their lawyers had asked Woodlock to move the trial out of state, saying that overwhelming media coverage of the case would mean that their clients would not receive fair trials in Massachusetts. But the federal judge said the defendants could receive fair trials in Boston, or if need be, in Springfield, 80 miles west of Boston.

Tazhayakov also is charged with evidence tampering. Kadyrbayev also faces conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges. The two have been held without bail for more than a year and could face a maximum of 5 years in prison. They are Kazakhstan nationals living in the U.S. illegally and could face deportation.

Phillipos, of Cambridge, is charged with lying to investigators. He has been held under house arrest and could face a maximum of 8 years in prison.

Each of them pleaded not guilty. All motions to dismiss the charges were denied.

Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges related to the deadly bombing. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died after a gunbattle with police three days later, the night Massachusetts Institute of Technology security officer Sean Collier was shot and killed. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is facing state charges in Collier's death.

Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in Tsarnaev's trial, set to begin in November.

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