The agent, Sara Wood, was part of a team of law officers who
surrounded the Massachusetts apartment shared by Azamat Tazhayakov
and a fellow Kazakh exchange student, ordered the pair out and
questioned them into the pre-dawn hours of the next day about their
friend and accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Tazhayakov, 20, is the first of three friends of Tsarnaev to stand
trial on charges they interfered with the investigation into the
blasts that killed thee people and injured 264 by removing a laptop
and backpack containing fireworks from the suspect's dorm room at
the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth late on April 18, 2013,
hours after the FBI released photos of the suspects.
His attorney on Monday said that Tazhayakov, who has pleaded not
guilty, never touched the laptop or backpack, contending that had
been the work of his roommate Dias Kadyrbayev, who is awaiting trial
later this year on obstruction charges.
Prosecutors contended that the two and a third friend, Robel
Phillipos of Cambridge, Massachusetts, intended to help cover
Tsarnaev's tracks when they went to his dorm.
They noted that Tsarnaev had previously discussed bomb-making with
Tazhayakov and sent him a text messages hours after the bombing
saying, "don't go thinking it's me," Assistant U.S. Attorney
Stephanie Siegmann said on Monday.
One issue to be argued is whether statements that Tazhayakov made to
FBI investigators on the night of April 18-19 were voluntary. At a
pretrial hearing last month, Kadyrbayev testified that he did not
believe he was free to go during their separate interrogations.
[to top of second column]
In her first few minutes on the witness stand on Monday, Wood
described Tazhayakov as "extremely relaxed" during questioning.
Tazhayakov could face 25 years in prison if convicted of charges of
obstruction of justice and conspiracy. Kadyrbayev faces the same
charges, while Phillipos faces the lesser charge of lying to
None of the three men have been accused of playing a role in
planning the bombing, which prosecutors contend was the work of
Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, who died after a gun
battle with police on the night of April 18, 2013.
The surviving brother is awaiting trial on charges that carry the
death penalty if he is convicted.
(Editing by Eric Walsh)
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