Marathon Bombing Suspect’s Pal Guilty of Lying to the FBI
A third friend of alleged Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been convicted of helping hide information from investigators in the days following the April 15, 2013, attack.
On Tuesday, a jury found Robel Phillipos guilty of lying to FBI officials who were looking into Tsarnaev’s connection to the bombings and shooting death of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier.
Wearing a suit and tie, and a somber, stoic look on his face, Phillipos sat in a packed courtroom at the Moakley Courthouse in South Boston as a jury delivered their verdict after six days of deliberations, which started on October 21.
Phillipos was convicted for “making false statements” during interviews with federal officials, who claimed that the 21-year-old was present when two other friends removed a bag containing a laptop and other alleged evidence from Tsarnaev’s UMass Dartmouth dorm room on April 18, just three days after the bombing.
Phillipos was accused of “knowingly and willfully” lying to the FBI during the terrorism investigation in connection with the disposed items. Lawyers representing Phillipos argued in court that their client had smoked marijuana, and was “high out of his mind,” on the night that he entered Tsarnaev’s room with his friends, making his recollection of the series of events somewhat hazy. But that defense quickly went up in smoke.
Phillipos is the third friend of Tsarnaev’s to be sentenced in connection with the investigation following the attack that killed three people, and injured more than 260 others.
In August, Dias Kadyrbayev pleaded guilty to charges he obstructed the investigation, and admitted he knew his friend was a bombing suspect when he disposed of his bag, containing the laptop, fireworks, and other items prosecutors plan to use as potential evidence in court, in a dumpster. The items were later recovered in a landfill in New Bedford.
A month prior, another friend of Tsarnaev’s from college, Azamat Tazhayakov, was found guilty of obstructing a terrorism investigation.
Tsarnaev’s case will head to trial in 2015, at the start of the new year. He pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges earlier this year.