Though the trial of the Boston bomber, 21-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is over, Boston bombing trials continue for friends of Tsarnaev who police say impeded the investigation by helping rid the bomber’s room of evidence. Azamat Tazhayakov is one of the friends who was on trial for obstruction following allegations that he had removed a backpack from Tsarnaev’s dorm room and threw it in the trash. Azamat was found guilty of obstruction and sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for removing a backpack filled with fireworks, a laptop, and a thumb drive from the dorm room following the horrific bombings.
The Washington Post reports that Azamat Tazhayakov was indicted just four months after the bombing on charges of obstruction of justice. Police had claimed that Azamat, who was friends with Tsarnaev, went to Dzhokhar’s dorm room along with a couple of other friends to dispose of items. The items in question included Tsarnaev’s laptop, a backpack with fireworks, and a thumb drive.
Police were eventually able to find the backpack and its contents in a landfill after it had been thrown away in the garbage. One of the other friends, Dias Kadyrbayev, was sentenced last week for obstruction of justice and sentenced to six years in federal prison. After his term in prison is complete, Kadyrbayev has agreed to be deported from the United States.
Reuters reports that though the charge of obstruction could have landed Azamat in prison for up to 20 years, he was only sentenced to three-and-a-half years after he willingly testified against Dzhokhar. The trial lawyers for Azamat note that he was just a marijuana-smoking teenager who did not understand the consequences of removing the backpack from Tsarnaev’s dorm room. Azamat said on trial that he didn’t think his friend could be some sort of “jihadist” and that he “never thought about it.”
“It just makes me sick what Dzohkhar did on April 15. I didn’t go there to the dorm room because I made connection that Dzhokhar was some jihadist. I never thought about it. At that moment I saw that one of my friends was alleged bombed and I didn’t know if it was true or not.”
Another of Dzohkhar’s friends is facing trial after he allegedly lied to police during the investigation about the removal of the backpack. Robel Phillipos initially claimed to police that he did not see the backpack being thrown into the dumpster and removed from the room. However, he was convicted in October of lying to law enforcement officers during the investigation.
What do you think about the Boston bomber’s friends on trial? Are their sentences appropriate?
[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Scott Eisen]