Attorneys for the three men, college friends of accused bomber
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, are also expected to argue that some of the
charges against their clients are too vague and to seek to forbid
prosecutors to read some of their early statements to police at the
trial, set to begin in June.
Their attorneys have argued that the intense publicity surrounding
the April 15, 2013, blasts that killed three people and injured 264
and the upcoming trial of Tsarnaev, the surviving member of a pair
of ethnic Chechen brothers also accused of shooting dead a police
officer, will make it all but impossible to find an impartial jury
to hear the case at U.S. District Court in Boston.
Federal prosecutors contend that three men, Kazakh exchange students
Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov and Cambridge, Massachusetts,
resident Robel Phillipos, went to Tsarnaev's dorm room three days
after the attack and removed a backpack and laptop computer as
police were searching for the suspected bomber.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov face charges of conspiracy and obstruction
of justice, which carry the penalty of up to 25 years in prison,
while Phillipos faces a less serious charge of lying to
investigators, which carries a possible 16-year sentence.
The Kazakhs have been held in federal custody on immigration
violations since their arrest days after the attack. Phillipos is
out on bail.
[to top of second column]
The three may be present in court on Tuesday to testify about
whether statements they made to police after their arrests were made
voluntarily, according to court filings. If they appear, Kadyrbayev
and Tazhayakov will be permitted to wear civilian clothes rather
than prison jumpsuits, U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock ruled
over the weekend.
Their lawyers have also asked Woodlock to strike references to
"terrorism," from the charges noting that prosecutors have not
contended that the three played any role in the bombing attack.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now 20, is awaiting trial on charges linked to
the bombing and faces the threat of execution if he is convicted.
His older brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died in a
gunbattle with police three days after the attack, while the pair
was attempting to escape the city.
(Reporting by Scott Malone and G Crosse)
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