BOSTON – A college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted today of impeding the investigation into the bombing.
Azamat Tazhayakov was charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy, with prosecutors saying he agreed with a friend’s plan to remove Tsarnaev’s backpack containing altered fireworks from his dorm room a few days after the 2013 bombing.
His trial was the first stemming from the bombing that killed three and injured more than 260 near the marathon’s finish line. Tazhayakov put his hands over his face and shook his head as the jury announced the verdicts, which it reached on the third day of deliberations. His mother sobbed loudly and rocked in her seat.
Juror Daniel Antonin, 49, said the panel heavily debated the charges, but followed the law carefully.
“They took materials from that room that they never should have touched, and that’s what he is going to pay the price for,” said Antonin, who works in sales in the health care industry.
Tazhayakov faces a maximum 20-year prison sentence for obstruction and a five-year maximum for conspiracy but likely will get a lot less under sentencing guidelines. Sentencing was scheduled for October 16.
Tazhayakov’s lawyers argued that it was the other friend Dias Kadyrbayev, who removed the items from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth dorm room and then threw them away.
Prosecutors told the jury that both men shared in the decision to remove the items and get rid of them to protect Tsarnaev. Kadyrbayev faces a separate trial in September. A third friend, Robel Phillipos, is charged with lying to investigators.