FBI arrests three suspects in Boston Marathon bombing case

May 2, 2013

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Three college friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have been arrested and charged by complaint with federal felony offenses for their conduct after the bombing.

CBS News reported yesterday that,

Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by concealing and destroying evidence. A third man, Robel Phillipos, was charged with lying to investigators about the visit to Tsarnaev’s room.

Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev have been accused of going to Tsarnaev’s room on campus after the bombing and removing a laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks from which the explosive gunpowder had been removed. One of the young men attempted to dispose of the backpack by throwing it in the garbage. FBI agents recovered it from a landfill. They also seized the laptop.

The three young men were in federal court yesterday for their initial appearances.

In a court appearance Wednesday afternoon, Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev waived bail and agreed to voluntary detention. Their next hearing is scheduled for May 14.

CBS Boston reports that federal Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler admonished Phillipos in court, telling him to pay attention and not look down during the proceeding.

After the hearing, attorneys for the three spoke to the press briefly.

Harlan Protass, Tazhayakov’s attorney, said his client “feels horrible and was shocked to hear that someone he knew at UMass-Darmouth was involved with the Boston Marathon bombing.”

“[Tazhayakov] has cooperated fully with authorities and looks foward to the truth coming out in the case,” Protass said.

Robert Stahl, Kadyrbayev’s attorney, insisted his client had nothing to do with the bombing and has been cooperating with investigators.

“Mr. Kadyrbayev did not know that those items [reportedly taken from Dzhokhar’s dorm room] were of any evidential value,” Stahl said.

Whether the three young men had any foreknowledge of the bombing and did anything to assist their friend remains to be seen. As I have previously said, complaints in federal felony offenses are used to provide a legal basis to hold people until a grand jury returns an indictment.

The hearing on May 14 will be a preliminary hearing to determine whether probable cause exists to support the charges in the complaint. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler will preside over the hearing. An FBI agent will testify for the government regarding the factual basis for probable cause and defense counsel will have an opportunity to cross examine the agent.

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