- ‘Optionally piloted’ Black Hawk helicopter clears tests; future missions to go ‘fully unmanned’
- Vice News reporter kidnapped in Ukraine is freed after being beaten, blindfolded
- FCC’s new ‘net neutrality’ proposal sparks outrage among consumer advocates
- Families of ferry’s lost confront South Korean officials
- 2-week truce for Sriracha hot sauce maker, California city
- NYC’s de Blasio seeks to ban wood-burning fireplaces
- Residents angry Obama mispronounced town’s name during mudslide visit
- Israel halts peace talks with Palestinians
- Netanyahu’s driver accused of raping girls under age 12
- Putin calls Internet ‘CIA project’ that must be controlled
Tsarnaev’s friends plead not guilty to charges of hindering Boston terror investigation
BOSTON — Three friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty Friday to charges they hindered the investigation into the deadly attack.
Authorities allege that the friends went to Tsarnaev’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth three days after the bombings, soon after the FBI posted photographs of the two bombing suspects, Tsarnaev and his older brother. The friends are accused in an indictment of removing several items from the room, including Tsarnaev’s laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks.
One friend, Robel Phillipos, 19, of Cambridge, was indicted last month on two counts of lying to authorities while he was being questioned. His lawyers declined to comment after the brief arraignment in U.S. District Court but said in a statement that Phillipos “had nothing to do whatsoever with the Boston Marathon bombing or destroying any evidence.”
“In the end, it will be clear that this prosecution should never have been brought in the first place,” attorneys Derege Demissie and Susan Church said in the statement.
Authorities allege that Tsarnaev, 20, and his brother Tamerlan, 26, ethnic Chechens from Russia, planned and carried out twin bombings near the finish of the marathon on April 15. Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a gunbattle with police as authorities closed in on the brothers several days after the bombings.
Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both Kazakhstan nationals, are both charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
All four men attended the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.
Robert Stahl, an attorney for Kadyrbayev, said his client was “shocked and horrified” by the bombings and had “no intent” to obstruct justice.
“I’m saying he didn’t dispose of evidence, didn’t understand it was evidence, and the rest will come out at trial,” Stahl told reporters after the arraignment.
More than two dozen family members and friends attended the hearing to support Phillipos. During an argument for bail in May, his lawyer portrayed him as a frightened and confused young man who was subjected to intense interrogation during the investigation.
Tazhayakov’s parents and sister were in court during the brief arraignment. A translator said the family traveled from their native Kazakhstan in April and plans to remain in the United States until the case is resolved.
Tazhayakov’s attorney, Nicholas Wooldridge, said the government “rushed into things” by charging his client.
“This is a witch hunt,” Wooldridge told reporters after his arraignment.
All three men are due back in court Oct. 29 for a status conference.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Capin said he expects to call about 20 witnesses during a two-week trial. No date has been set yet for it.
TWT Video Picks
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Obama's veil of secrecy is pierced
- In its hunt for Senate, Republican candidates campaign against Harry Reid
- Obamacare class-action suit opens a new legal front
- List Hillary Clinton's successes? State Dept. spokeswoman flubs answer
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- 'Conservatives' should feel exposed by Bundy's racist comments: Scarborough
- Obama avoids 'red line' for China, prepared to impose tougher sanctions on Russia
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Sold out: Ukraine's leadership swapped best military weapons for cash
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014