ADVERTISEMENT

Amir Ismagulov left court after his son was convicted Monday of impeding the Boston Marathon bombing investigation.

Steven Senne • Associated Press,

Azamat Tazhayakov in a courtroom sketch from his federal trial in May.

Jane Flavell Collins • AP,

College pal guilty of conspiracy in Boston bombings

  • Article by: DENISE LAVOIE
  • Associated Press
  • July 21, 2014 - 9:41 PM

– A college friend was convicted Monday of trying to protect Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev by agreeing with another friend to get rid of a backpack and disabled fireworks they took from his dorm room three days after the attack.

Azamat Tazhayakov, 20, put his hands over his face and shook his head as guilty verdicts were read on federal charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy in the first trial stemming from the twin bombings, which killed three and injured more than 260 near the marathon’s finish line in April 2013. His mother sobbed loudly and rocked in her seat.

The jury found that Tazhayakov conspired with friend Dias Kadyrbayev to take from Tsarnaev’s room a backpack containing fireworks that had been emptied of their explosive powder. Prosecutors said the explosive powder could have been used to make bombs.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers told the jury that it was Kadyrbayev who actually threw the items away, but prosecutors said Tazhayakov agreed with the plan and was an active participant.

Juror Daniel Antonino, 49, said the panel heavily debated the charges but in the end believed Tazhayakov had impeded the ­investigation.

“They took materials from that room that they never should have touched, and that’s what he is going to pay the price for,” Antonino said.

Tazhayakov faces a maximum 20-year prison sentence for obstruction and a five-year maximum for conspiracy. Sentencing was scheduled for Oct. 16. The verdicts came less than three years after he arrived in the United States from his native Kazakhstan, hoping to get an engineering degree at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

Prosecutors said Tazhayakov quickly became friends with Kadyrbayev, who was also from Kazakhstan, and the two became friendly with Tsarnaev, who, like them, spoke Russian. Tsarnaev, who lived in Kyrgyzstan and Russia, came to the United States as a child with his family. He turns 21 Tuesday.

The three men often hung out together, in Tsarnaev’s dorm room or at the off-campus apartment Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev shared.

During the trial, prosecutors showed jurors video of Tazhayakov at the university gym with Tsarnaev the day after the bombings. Both appeared relaxed. Tazhayakov’s lawyers said the footage showed their client had no idea Tsarnaev was involved in the bombings until days later, when the FBI released photos of him and his brother, Tamerlan, as suspects.

Tazhayakov’s lawyers argued that it was Kadyrbayev who removed the items from Tsarnaev’s dorm room and then threw them away. Kadyrbayev faces a separate trial in September.

© 2014 Star Tribune