Former Massachusetts governor and controversial presidential candidate Michael Dukakis testified for the defense in a trial related to the Boston Bombing. Dukakis, testifying on behalf of accused collaborator Robel Phillipos, was called by the defense as a character witness for the young man. Dukakis says he is a close friend of the boy’s family and spent some time with Phillipos, including taking him to the Democratic National Convention in 2004.
The trial, being held in the U.S. District Court in Boston, is being heavily covered in the news in the Boston area. According to the Boston Globe, Dukakis spoke with Phillipos shortly after the bombing after the FBI had questioned the young man. He said that the boy had been “confused” and “upset” and was not sure what he’d told the FBI during the five hours of questioning he’d undergone.
Phillipos is on trial for allegedly lying to federal agents. Jury selection began in June, the Inquisitr reported. He was a friend of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev and is said to have witnessed other friends removing evidence from Tsarnaev’s dorm room shortly after the bombing. Phillipos grew up in the Cambridge area and was attending the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth at the time of the Boston bombings.
Dukakis testified that he knew Phillipos and his mother through the International Institute where both Dukakis’ wife and Phillipos’ mother were social workers when Phillipos was a child. Dukakis said “We watched him grow up.”
The Dukakis testimony is expected to aid the defense’s argument that Phillipos did not know what had happened that night, was intoxicated by marijuana, and was just “tagging along” with the two friends of Tsarnaev who took the backpack of evidence and threw it in a dumpster. They contend that his confession to the FBI was under duress and did not reflect memories he could have recalled. Phillipos did not have an attorney present during the interrogations which produced his confession.
Dukakis, who became a figure in politics on a successful run for governor of Massachusetts in 1975 and upon another successful run in 1983, entered the national spotlight as a contender for the Democratic National Party’s nomination for president in the 1990s.
One of the two accused of taking the backpack and throwing it away, Azamat Tazhayakov, was convicted in July of obstruction of justice for his actions, Reuters reports. The other, Dias Kadyrbayev, plead guilty to obstruction in August. Phillipos faces up to sixteen years in prison if convicted of lying to investigators. The testimony of Dukakis could sway the jury towards leniency for the young man, even if found guilty.