Marathon suspect's friend guilty of impeding probe

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Marathon suspect's friend guilty of impeding probe
FILE - In this May 13, 2014 file courtroom sketch, defendant Azamat Tazhayakov, a college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, sits during a hearing in federal court in Boston. Tazhayakov, of Kazakhstan, is accused with another friend of removing items from Tsarnaev's dorm room, but is not charged with participating in the bombing or knowing about it in advance. The jury began deliberating in the case Wednesday, July 16, 2014, after closing arguments in the first trial related to the 2013 bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260. (AP Photo/Jane Flavell Collins, File)
This undated law enforcement agency photo released by the U.S. Attorney's Office and presented as government evidence Friday, July 11, 2014, during the trial of Azamat Tazhayakov in U.S. District Court in Boston, shows a backpack retrieved from a landfill in New Bedford, Mass. during the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing. Tazhayakov, a friend of bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev, is on trial on obstruction of justice charges, accused with another friend of removing items from Tsarnaev's dorm room. He is not charged with participating in the bombing or knowing about it in advance. (AP Photo/U.S. Attorney's Office)
This undated law enforcement agency photo released by the U.S. Attorney's Office and presented as government evidence Friday, July 11, 2014, during the trial of Azamat Tazhayakov in U.S. District Court in Boston, shows items that had been retrieved from a landfill in New Bedford, Mass. during the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing. Tazhayakov, a friend of bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev, is on trial on obstruction of justice charges, accused with another friend of removing items from Tsarnaev's dorm room. He is not charged with participating in the bombing or knowing about it in advance. (AP Photo/U.S. Attorney's Office)
This courtroom sketch shows defendants Azamat Tazhayakov, left, Dias Kadyrbayev, center, and Robel Phillipos, right, college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, during a hearing in federal court Tuesday, May 13, 2014, in Boston. Judge Douglas Woodlock ruled the three men will be tried separately, but their trials do not need to be moved out of Massachusetts. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov are Kazakhstan nationals charged with tampering with evidence for removing Tsarnaev's laptop and a backpack containing fireworks from his college dorm room shortly after last year's fatal bombing. Phillipos, of Cambridge, Mass., is charged with lying to investigators. (AP Photo/Jane Flavell Collins)
Boston Marathon bombing survivor Marc Fucarile, right, departs federal court after attending a hearing for three friends of marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Thursday, May 15, 2014, in Boston. The friends, Azamat Tazhayakov, Dias Kadyrbayev and Robel Phillipos, are to be tried separately in Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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BOSTON (AP) -- A college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted Monday of impeding the investigation into the bombing.

Azamat Tazhayakov was charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy, with prosecutors saying he agreed with a friend's plan to remove Tsarnaev's backpack containing altered fireworks from his dorm room a few days after the 2013 bombing.

His trial was the first stemming from the bombing, which killed three and injured more than 260 near the marathon's finish line. Tazhayakov's mother sobbed loudly and rocked in her seat as the jury announced the guilty verdicts, which it reached on the third day of deliberations.

Boston Bombing Suspect's Friend Convicted Of Hiding Evidence

Tazhayakov's lawyers argued that it was the other friend, Dias Kadyrbayev, who removed the items from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth dorm room and then threw them away.

Prosecutors told the jury that both men shared in the decision to remove the items and get rid of them to protect Tsarnaev. Kadyrbayev faces a separate trial in September. A third friend, Robel Phillipos, is charged with lying to investigators.

During Tazhayakov's trial, FBI agents testified that Tazhayakov told them he and Kadyrbayev decided to take the backpack, fireworks and Tsarnaev's laptop computer hours after Kadyrbayev received a text message from Tsarnaev that said he could go to his dorm room and "take what's there." The items were removed hours after the FBI released photos and video of Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, and identified them as suspects in the bombing.

But Tazhayakov's lawyer, Matthew Myers, said his client was a naive college kid who was prosecuted because he was a "friend of the bomber." Myers said Tazhayakov and another friend, Robel Phillipos, sat passively watching a movie in Tsarnaev's dorm room as Kadyrbayev took the backpack.

Prosecutors acknowledged that Kadyrbayev is the one who actually threw away the items taken from Tsarnaev's room, but they said Tazhayakov agreed with the plan.

The backpack and fireworks were later recovered in a New Bedford landfill. Prosecutors said the fireworks had been emptied of their explosive powder - an ingredient that can be used to make bombs.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev escaped, but was found later that day, wounded and hiding in a boat parked in a backyard in nearby Watertown.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty in the bombing and is scheduled to stand trial in November. He faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.

Tazhayakov is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 16. He faces a five-year maximum for conspiracy and 20-year maximum for obstruction but likely will get a lot less under sentencing guidelines.

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