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article imageFriends get prison terms for trying to help Boston Marathon bomber flee

By Nathan Salant     Jun 5, 2015 in Crime
Boston - Two college friends of condemned Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were sentenced to prison Friday for trying to obstruct the FBI investigation into the 2013 attack.
Azamat Tazhayakov was sentenced to 3½ years in prison and Robel Phillipos got three years for their roles in trying to destroy evidence and lying to the FBI to protect Tsarnaev from being captured after the bombing that disrupted the marathon, according to the Associated Press.
Three people were killed and 264 injured on April 15, 2013, when two bombs exploded near the finish line of the country’s most-celebrated footrace; a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer was killed three days later when Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, tried to elude law enforcement and escape from Boston.
Tamerlan was killed during the escape attempt.
A third friend, Dias Kadyrbayev, was sentenced last week to six years in prison for removing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s backpack from his college dorm room and tossing it into a dumpster while authorities were looking for the suspect.
Tsarnaev has been sentenced to death for helping his brother plant the bombs and is awaiting his execution date, which is scheduled to be determined next month.
Massachusetts has abolished the death penalty but Tsarnaev was tried under federal law, which still allows capital punishment.
Tsarnaev said in writings while on the run that the bombings were carried out to avenge the death of fellow Moslems at the hands of U.S. soldiers in Asia.
But Tazhayakov apologized in court for his actions in support of Tsarnaev and said he was not an Islamic radical, the AP said.
"I apologize to the people of Boston for what I did," he said Friday before his sentencing.
"I don't support any Muslim radicalization, he said,” it just makes me sick what Dzhokhar did on April 15."
None of the friends were accused of knowing about the bombings in advance, the AP said.
Former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, the Democratic Party candidate for president in 1988 and a friend of Phillipos’ parents, wrote a letter of support for Phillipos and testified on his behalf before U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock.
But Woodlock said the two had committed serious crimes by impeding the investigation into the bombings when authorities still did not know who was responsible.
“There is no question that this was a very serious offense – the failure to act properly when contronted with the devastating event,” Woodlock said.
“There's a price to be paid for the failure of responsibility," he said.
Prosecutors had asked for five-year sentences, the AP said.
The MIT police officer killed in a shootout in Cambridge while the Tsarnaev brothers were trying to escape was Sean Collier.
The three Marathon spectators killed when the two bombs exploded near the race’s finish line on Boyston Street were Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student from China; Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager; and 8-year-old Martin Richard, who had gone to watch the race with his family.
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