BOSTON May 14 Attorneys for one of the accused
Boston Marathon bomber's three friends charged with hampering
the investigation will question an FBI agent on Wednesday as
they try to prevent early statements by their client from being
read at his upcoming trial.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's college friends, Kazakh exchange
students Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, and Robel
Phillipos of Cambridge, will appear at hearings in federal court
in Boston this week ahead of the trials, which are due to begin
Lawyers for Kadyrbayev began to cross-examine FBI special
agent John Walker on Tuesday. The agent recounted that four days
after the bombing attack that killed three people and injured
264, he led a search of the students' apartment in New Bedford,
Massachusetts, on a lead that Tsarnaev was hiding there. The
lead turned out to be false.
Walker said he interviewed Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov, and a
third person he described as Kadyrbayev's girlfriend, during a
manhunt for Tsarnaev at a time the bureau was concerned that
other conspirators may have been involved in the bombing plot.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the other brother accused in the blast,
had died hours earlier after a gun battle with police.
After prosecutors and defense attorneys have finished
questioning FBI agents involved in the proceeding, Kadyrbayev
will take the stand as his lawyers seek to prove that his early
statements were made before he understood the legal consequences
of speaking with the investigators.
"We look forward to cross-examining the government witnesses
and putting our client on the stand," Kadyrbayev's attorney,
Robert Stahl, told reporters after Tuesday's hearing.
Attorneys for Tazhayakov and Phillipos withdrew requests to
have their early statements suppressed to protect their clients
from having to testify ahead of the trials.
None of the friends were charged with taking part in the
attack, but prosecutors contend the three went to Tsarnaev's
dorm room three days later and removed a backpack and laptop
computer as police searched for the suspected bomber.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov face conspiracy and obstruction of
justice charges, which carry a penalty of up to 25 years in
prison, while Phillipos faces a less serious charge of lying to
investigators, which could mean a possible 16-year sentence.
U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock on Tuesday agreed to
try the three men separately, but rejected a request to move
their trial out of Massachusetts.
(Reporting by Scott Malone; editing by Gunna Dickson)