Jury ends second day of deliberations in trial of accused Boston bomber's friend

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 17, 2014 4:25 PM

By Elizabeth Barber

BOSTON (Reuters) - The jury weighing obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges against a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev adjourned after a second day of deliberations on Thursday.

Azamat Tazhayakov, a Kazakh exchange student, is the first of three of Tsarnaev's friends to be charged with interfering in authorities' investigation into the April 15, 2013, attack that killed three people and injured 264.

Prosecutors charged the men with removing a laptop computer and backpack containing empty fireworks shells from Tsarnaev's college dorm room during a manhunt three days after the attack.

The jury began deliberations on Wednesday after six days of testimony. In their closing arguments, the prosecutors and defense attorneys etched conflicting portraits of Tazhayakov.

Prosecutors contended that Tazhayakov, now 20, set out to help Tsarnaev when he and two other friends, Dias Kadyrbayev and Robel Phillipos, removed the items from Tsarnaev's dorm room, hours after the FBI had released photos of Tsarnaev and his brother as suspects in the case.

But the defense argued that Tazhayakov was a college student who did not understand the possible consequences of his actions. Defense attorneys also contended that Kadyrbayev, not Tazhayakov, later put the backpack into a dumpster, while Tazhayakov and Phillipos watched a movie.

Tazhayakov could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of obstruction of justice and conspiracy. Kadyrbayev is awaiting trial on the same charges. Phillipos is facing a lesser charge of lying to investigators.

U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock, noting that one of the jurors had complained of illness, dismissed the jury until Monday.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Barber; Editing by Scott Malone and Eric Beech)