Friend of accused Boston bomber due back on witness stand

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 03, 2014 7:04 AM

BOSTON (Reuters) - A friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber is due back on the stand on Tuesday as his attorneys try to prove his early statements to police should not be heard at his upcoming trial on charges of obstructing the probe into the deadly blasts.

Kazakh exchange student Dias Kadyrbayev was questioned for hours after heavily armed federal agents ordered him and his roommate out of their apartment during the April 19, 2013, manhunt for accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

His lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock to find that statements made at that time should be thrown out because he did not have a lawyer present and did not understand his rights.

They also presented an expert witness on Monday who testified that Kadyrbayev was not sufficiently proficient in English to understand written statements that he had a right not to testify. A translator served as the 20-year-old Kadyrbayev's interpreter throughout Monday's proceedings, the first time he sought such aid in court.

Kadyrbayev is one of three college friends of Tsarnaev charged with hampering the investigation by going to the suspect's dormitory room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth three days after the attack and removing a laptop and backpack containing empty fireworks shells. Kadyrbayev and fellow Kazakh exchange student Azamat Tazhayakov are both charged with obstruction of justice and could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted. A third friend, Robel Phillipos of Cambridge, Massachusetts, faces up to 16 years if convicted of the less serious charge of lying to investigators.

Tsarnaev, who also is accused of killing a university police officer in a shootout three days after the bombings, is awaiting trial in a prison west of Boston. He faces the possibility of execution if convicted.

Three people were killed and 264 injured in the April 15, 2013, bombing at the historic Boston Marathon.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Peter Cooney)