BOSTON (Reuters) - Attorneys for three college friends of the accused Boston Marathon bomber who are charged with helping cover up evidence of the crime on Monday asked for more records related to their arrests.
Defense attorneys for the friends said they needed notes of any statements they made before being advised of their right not to speak to police. A large number of police swarmed the apartment south of Boston shared by two of the men, both Kazakh exchange students, during a massive April 19 manhunt for bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
“There were dozens and dozens of officers and after they were ordered out at gunpoint and stripped in public view and handcuffed, they were then left in patrol cars for several hours,” and may have made statements overheard by officers, said Robert Stahl, an attorney for Dias Kadyrbayev, one of the two Kazakh exchange students.
Prosecutors say Kadyrbayev and fellow exchange student Azamat Tazhayakov, as well as Robel Phillipos of Cambridge, Massachusetts, went to Tsarnaev’s Massachusetts dorm room three days after the April 15 bombing, which killed three people and injured 264, and removed a laptop computer and empty fireworks casings.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov face charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy for removing the bag, while Phillipos is charged with lying to investigators. All three have pleaded not guilty.
U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock, who has been pushing the defense to stay on track for a June trial, urged them to limit their requests to evidence directly relevant to the case and noted that prosecutors had said they did not intend to introduce at trial statements made before the suspects had been advised of their Miranda rights.
“Nothing they said before they were Mirandized is going to be used,” Woodlock said during lengthy 90-minute hearing. “This case is contained and easily understood.”
Prosecutors said they had already turned over all evidence related to the case and denied defense attorneys claims that authorities took and ripped up a statement made to police by a witness who was a friend of the exchange students.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov face up to 25 years in prison or deportation if convicted while Phillipos could be sentenced to up to 16 years.
Azamat Tazhayakov’s mother, who attended the proceedings with her 1-year-old daughter in her arms, told reporters after the hearing that she believes her son will be found innocent.
“We believe everything is going to be OK,” she said in Russian, using a friend as an interpreter.
She added that she has been visiting her son in prison twice a week and speaking to him by phone daily.
The three defendants were questioned repeatedly over several days, beginning on April 19, a day after the FBI released photos of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother Tamerlan, calling them suspects in the bombing.
Prosecutors said Tsarnaev’s three college friends recognized him and contacted him by text message. Tsarnaev, they said, told them to go to his University of Massachusetts Dartmouth dorm room and take anything they wanted.
That night, according to prosecutors, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now 20, and his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan attempted to escape the Boston area, shooting dead a university police officer and later engaging in gun battle with police in a nearby suburb.
Dzhokhar ran over his older brother Tamerlan with a stolen car, leaving him dead, officials said. Dzhokhar was arrested late the following evening, after a day-long manhunt that locked down most of the greater Boston area.
The surviving brother’s arrest came four days after the attack, and his trial on charges that carry the threat of execution if he is convicted is due to begin November 3. He has pleaded not guilty.
Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Chris Francescani, Barbara Goldberg and Cynthia Osterman