A former University of Massachusetts Dartmouth student has been found guilty in federal court of obstruction of justice and conspiring to obstruct justice by hindering the investigation into his college friend, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Azamat Tazhayakov was convicted by a 12-member jury in US District Court in Boston. The jury had deliberated about 15 hours over three days.
Tazhayakov, 20, faces a maximum 20-year prison sentence on the obstruction of justice charge, and up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge. Sentencing was set for Oct. 16, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office said.
As the verdict was announced, Tazhayakov’s mother began to weep openly. Her son had a less dramatic response. He was seen at one point lowering his head into his hands, but he appeared stoic at a decision that could send him to prison for years.
Timeline: Three pivotal days in the case of Azamat Tazhayakov
Tazhayakov, a foreign student from the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan, was convicted of the charges with respect to a backpack containing fireworks, a jar of Vaseline, and a thumb drive that he allegedly helped to take from Tsarnaev’s dorm several days after the April 15, 2013 bombings. A jury found him not guilty of the charges with respect to a laptop computer, which was also taken from the room.
Tazhayakov was charged with conspiring with his off-campus roommate, Dias Kadyrbayev, also a Kazakh, when they entered Tsarnaev’s dorm room on the night of April 18, 2013, hours after the FBI had broadcast photos of the two bombing suspects.
Prosecutors alleged that while Kadyrbayev took the lead in removing Tsarnaev’s backpack and laptop from the dorm room, Tazhayakov knew what was happening and condoned the plan to help protect Tsarnaev.
Defense attorneys argued that Tazhayakov was in the dark about what Kadyrbayev was doing that night, and was cooperative with law enforcement when he was questioned.
During the trial, which began about two weeks ago, prosecutors called on jurors to see Tazhayakov as a college student who didn’t do the right thing when it mattered, even when the full horrors of the Boston Marathon bombing were apparent. They said Tazhayakov could not have been oblivious to the bloody finish line scenes or his friend’s potential involvement.
Interactive: Tsarnaev’s texts with friends
Forensic analysis of Tazhayakov’s laptop and cellphones showed that he accessed videos of the bombing over and over again, prosecutors said, and as early as about 11 p.m. on April 18, 2013 — six hours after the FBI had released photos of the suspected bombers — Tazhayakov was putting Tsarnaev’s name in Internet searches.
That was still two hours before Tsarnaev’s older brother, the other suspect, was shot and killed in a police shootout, and about seven hours before the Tsarnaev brothers’ names were made public by the FBI.
Defense attorneys insisted that Tazhayakov was a sweetly-disposed clueless teenager consumed with playing video games and getting high, someone who never imagined his friend was the bomber.
They went to great lengths to cast their client as likeable, the one who urged Kadyrbayev to turn over additional evidence. The defense team pointed to a friend’s description of Tazhayakov as a “good kid” and a “mama’s boy.”
Tazhayakov is the first of three of Tsarnaev’s friends to go to trial on charges that they interfered with the investigation. Kadyrbayev faces the same charges, and his trial is scheduled for early September. A third friend, Robel Phillipos, is charged with lying to authorities about his whereabouts the night of April 18, when he was allegedly at Tsarnaev’s dorm room when the items were taken.
Another friend of the Tsarnaev brothers, Quincy taxi driver Khairullozon Matanov, also faces charges in a separate case of destroying evidence in the investigation. He allegedly deleted files from his computer, tried to get rid of his cellphones, and lied to investigators about his encounters with the brothers in the days after the bombings. Among those contacts: He allegedly had dinner with the brothers the night of the bombings.
Prosecutors have not alleged that either the college friends or Matanov had any knowledge of the bombings beforehand.
Tsarnaev’s trial is scheduled for November. He and his older brother, Tamerlan, 26, are accused of setting off two pressure-cooker bombs at the Marathon finish line, killing three and injuring more than 260.
Three days later, authorities said, they killed MIT police officer Sean Collier, setting off a manhunt that brought them into Watertown, where Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a shootout with police and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was eventually captured. Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Tsarnaev.
Of course she is 😒
She disgusts me
haven’t been on here in months, came back for aza’s trial
Can anyone figure out what this is word is supposed to be?
I’m just guessing here, but it looks like he has written “Our actions came with a message and this is [bullet hole] [unintelligible].”
The circled word could be ‘Illalah’ [sic] and the words before it, that were spoiled by the aperture, were probably “la ilaha”. So the the sentence might’ve been, “Our actions came with a message and this is la ilaha illalah (“there is no deity but Allah”).” *shrugs* makes sense to me…
Thank you! I spent way too long trying to figure out what that second letter was but now I can see it’s two l’s close together.