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article imageBoston bombing suspect's friend convicted of obstructing probe

By Nathan Salant     Jul 22, 2014 in World
Boston - A friend of the lone surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect faces up to 20 years in prison after his conviction Monday of obstructing the FBI investigation of the 2013 attack.
Azamat Tazhayakov was found guilty of removing a backpack containing empty fireworks casings from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's Boston residence three days after bombs exploded at the marathon finish line, killing three runners and injuring 260 runners and spectators.
Two other friends of Tsarnaev -- fellow Kazakh exchange student Dias Kadyrbayev and Robel Phillipos of Cambridge, Mass. -- are awaiting trial on related charges.
Tazhayakov, who was acquitted of also taking a laptop computer from the dorm room, is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 16 by US District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock, according to the Reuters news service.
Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, who emigrated with their family from Chechnya, are suspected of planting two bombs near the marathon finish line on April 15.
They were found a few days later after a frantic search and a shootout in nearby Watertown in which Tamerlan was killed and Tsarnaev was seriously wounded.
Tsarnaev was found hiding in a Watertown backyard the following day.
Tsarnaev has recovered from his wounds and is facing trial on terrorism charges that could bring the death penalty, Reuters said.
Prosecutors at Tazhayakov's trial contended at that the three friends entered Tsarnaev's dorm room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth after realizing he was a bombing suspect and receiving a text message telling them to take any of his belongings they wanted.
The indictment said the friends tossed items they removed from the dorm room into a dumpster at an apartment complex in New Bedford, Mass., about 50 miles away, and watched the items being picked up by a garbage truck.
FBI agents recovered the backpack at a landfill, Reuters said.
The government alleges that the Tsarnaev brothers built the improvised explosive devices that blew up at the marathon using gunpowder from fireworks and other items.
But juror Daniel Antonino said outside the courtroom that jury members concluded that the brothers took the laptop because it was valuable, not to influence the investigation, Reuters said..
Tazhayakov's mother began sobbing after the verdict was read, Reuters said.
Defense attorneys told Reuters that they would appeal the verdict, which they said was the result of high emotions in Boston.
"Trying a case in the middle of a bombed city, it's very difficult to get a juror who's objective," attorney Matthew Myers [Unlink] told Reuters.
"We understand what this town has been through," Myers said.
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