Two friends of Boston bombing suspect plead not guilty
BOSTON (CNN) — Two friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty Tuesday in federal court to charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstructing justice with intent to impede authorities.
Handcuffed and dressed in orange jail jumpsuits, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov both voiced their not guilty pleas during their roughly four-minute arraignment Tuesday in Boston. They remained in handcuffs afterward, when they were led out of court.
The two 19-year-old roommates and Kazakh nationals began attending the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth the same semester as Tsarnaev. They were arrested May 1 along with Robel Phillipos, another friend of Tsarnaev.
Authorities accuse them of helping Tsarnaev after the deadly April 15 blast by taking items from his dorm room to keep them from investigators.
This occurred shortly before Tsarnaev himself was taken into custody in Watertown, Massachusetts. He and his brother — who died following a confrontation with police — are accused of planting two bombs near the Boston Marathon finish line that left three people dead, then killing a campus police officer days later.
On April 18, three days before the FBI searched Tsarnaev’s dorm room, Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev allegedly went into the dorm and took Tsarnaev’s laptop as well as a backpack containing Vaseline, a thumb drive, fireworks and a “homework assignment sheet” and took them back to their New Bedford apartment, the federal indictment against them states.
“The fireworks container has been opened and manipulated,” the indictment says. “As a result, some of the explosive powder was visible.”
Kadyrbayev told his roommate that he believed Tsarnaev “used the Vaseline ‘to make bombs,’ or words to that effect,” according to the indictment.
That day, Kadyrbayev showed Tazhayakov a text message from Tsarnaev that read, in part, “If yu want yu can go to my room and take what’s there” followed by a smiley face emoticon.
Either that night or early the next day, Kadyrbayev tossed the backpack in a Dumpster, according to the charges.
After Tuesday’s brief court hearing, Kadyrbayev’s lawyer, Robert Stahl, said his client “had no intent to assist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.”
And Arkady Bukh, Tazhayakov’s attorney, has previously said his client did not touch any of Tsarnaev’s items.
As to Phillipos, he is free on $100,000 bond and being monitored electronically, according to terms set this spring and agreed to by his lawyers and prosecutors.