Friend of Bos­ton bomber gets 3 1/2 years


A col­lege friend of marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsar­naev was sen­tenced Fri­day to 3 1/2 years in pri­son af­ter he tear­fully apol­o­gized to the res­i­dents of Bos­ton for im­ped­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the attack while au­thor­i­ties fran­ti­cally searched for the sus­pects.

Aza­mat Tazhayakov, 21, was con­victed of con­spir­acy and ob­struc­tion of jus­tice for agree­ing with an­other friend to re­move Tsar­naev’s back­pack from his dorm room at the Uni­ver­sity of Mas­sachusetts- Dart­mouth. The back­pack con­tained fire­works that had been emp­tied of their ex­plo­sive pow­der.

The bomb­ings on April 15, 2013, killed three peo­ple and in­jured more than 260. Tsar­naev is await­ing for­mal sen­tenc­ing af­ter a jury con­demned him to die for com­mit­ting the attack with his now-dead older brother, Tamer­lan.

Tazhayakov and two other men went to Tsar­naev’s dorm room three days af­ter the bomb­ings, hours af­ter the FBI re­leased pho­tos of the Tsar­naev broth­ers as sus­pects in the bomb­ings.

One of the men, Dias Kadyr­bayev, was sen­tenced this week to six years in pri­son for re­mov- ing Tsar­naev’s back­pack from the room and toss­ing it in a dump­ster. He was also con­victed of tak­ing Tsar­naev’s lap­top.

Tazhayakov was found guilty of agree­ing with Kadyr­bayev to take the back­pack and throw it away.

“I apol­o­gize to the peo­ple of Bos­ton for what I did,” Tazhayakov said be­fore he was sen­tenced.

He also de­nounced Tsar­naev’s ac­tions. “I want to say that I don’t sup­port an ex­trem­ist. I don’t sup­port any Mus­lim rad­i­cal­iza­tion,” he said. “It just makes me sick what Dzhokhar did on April 15.”

None of Tsar­naev’s friends were ac­cused of know­ing about the bomb­ings ahead of time.

Judge Dou­glas Wood­lock said their crimes were still se­vere be­cause they im­peded an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a ter­ror attack at a time when in­ves­ti­ga­tors were try­ing to de­ter­mine the iden­ti­ties of the bombers. Hours later, the Tsar­naev broth­ers fa­tally shot Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy po­lice Of­fi­cer Sean Col­lier and had a wild shootout with po­lice. Tamer­lan Tsar­naev died fol­low­ing the gun­bat­tle.

“There is no ques­tion that this was a very se­ri­ous of­fense — the fail­ure to act prop­erly when con­fronted with the dev­as­tat­ing event,” Wood­lock said.

Tazhayakov will re­ceive credit for the more than two years he has al­ready spent in jail. His lawyer said he ex­pects him to fin­ish his sen­tence nine months to a year. Af­ter that, he will be de­ported to his na­tive Kaza­khstan.

Might Have Pre­vented Death?

David Archibald, one of the ju­rors who con­victed Tazhayakov, at­tended the sen­tenc­ing hear­ing and af­ter­ward said he be­lieves Tazhayakov “got off easy.” Archibald said he be­lieves Tazhayakov might have pre­vented Col­lier’s death if he had re­ported Tsar­naev to au­thor­i­ties im­me­di­ately.

“If he spoke up, the FBI would have had a good idea who they were look­ing for,” he said.

Tazhayakov’s fa­ther, Amir Is­mag­ulov, said the 3 1/2-year sen­tence is “very, very stiff.”

“He’s re­ally sorry he did some­thing to im­pede the in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” he said.

Pros­e­cu­tors had asked four-year sen­tence.

As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney John Capin said Tazhayakov should be given credit for co­op­er­at­ing with au­thor­i­ties. Af­ter his trial, he tes­ti­fied against a third friend — Ro­bel Philli­pos — and agreed to tes­tify against Tsar­naev. Pros-

for a ecu­tors did not end up call­ing him as a wit­ness at Tsar­naev’s trial.

Capin also ac­knowl­edged that Tazhayakov did not phys­i­cally re­move the back­pack or throw it away — Kadyr­bayev did that.

But he said Tazhayakov should have called au­thor­i­ties im­me­di­ately af­ter he rec­og­nized Tsar­naev in the pho­tos. About a month be­fore the bomb­ings, Tsar­naev told Tazhayakov that he viewed dy­ing as a martyr to be “a vir­tu­ous thing,” Capin said. In that same con­ver­sa­tion, Tsar­naev told Tazhayakov he knew how to make bombs us­ing ex­plo­sive pow­der.

“At no point did the de­fen­dant no­tify law en­force­ment of what he knew,” Capin said.

Philli­pos was con­victed of ly­ing to the FBI about be­ing in Tsar­naev’s dorm room when the items were re­moved. Pros­e­cu­tors plan to ask for a lit­tle over five years in pri­son when he is sen­tenced later Fri­day.

For­mer Mas­sachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, a friend of Philli­pos’ fam­ily, wrote a let­ter of sup­port for him and even tes­ti­fied dur­ing his trial.

In the let­ter to the judge, Dukakis wrote that he “can’t un­der­stand why jus­tice would be served by in­car­cer­at­ing him.”

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