Friend of Boston bomb suspect may get 7-year term in plea deal

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 21, 2014 4:26 PM

By Daniel Lovering

BOSTON (Reuters) - A friend of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges of hindering the investigation into the blasts under a plea agreement in which he would serve no more than seven years in prison.

Dias Kadyrbayev, 20, a Kazakh national, had been scheduled to go on trial in September after pleading not guilty to charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice last year following the Boston Marathon bombing, which killed three people and injured more than 260.

Prosecutors argued that Kadyrbayev and two other friends of Tsarnaev impeded the investigation by removing evidence including a backpack containing empty fireworks casings and a laptop computer from Tsarnaev’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

At a hearing at federal court in Boston on Thursday, a prosecutor read a plea agreement that calls for a sentence of no more than seven years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock said he would receive the agreement but not accept it formally before further review.

Kadyrbayev is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 18.

Kadyrbayev's roommate, Azamat Tazhayakov, was convicted of the same charges last month after six days of testimony by federal agents and other witnesses, although the jury found him not guilty of charges related to the laptop computer. 

Tazhayakov faces up to 20 years in prison on the obstruction of justice count and up to five years on the conspiracy count. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 16.

A third man, Robel Phillipos of Cambridge, Massachusetts, faces a less serious charge of lying to investigators, which carries a possible 16-year sentence. None of the three men has been accused of playing any role in the April 15, 2013, bombing.

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Peter Cooney)