A jury returned a split verdict today in the trial of Azamat Tazhayakov, friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Tazhayakov was found guilty on two of four counts of obstructing justice, both concerning the removal of Tsarnaev’s backpack. He was found not guilty of conspiring to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice with regard to the removal of Tsarnaev’s laptop.
Tazhayakov, 20, was accused of taking a backpack and a laptop from Tsarnaev’s dorm room at University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth at his request on April 18, 2013. Though photos of Tsarnaev had been released by the FBI at that time, he had not yet been identified by name.
The backpack, which contained fireworks with the gunpowder removed, was later found in a landfill. Tazhayakov maintained that it was their mutual friend Dias Kadyrbayev who removed backpack and the laptop. Tazhayakov’s lawyers said he was being prosecuted because he was friends with Tsarnaev, and did not know of Tsarnaev’s alleged involvement in the bombing when he went to his dorm room. The prosecution contended that Tazhayakov searched for Tsarnaev’s name on the Internet after the photos were released but before Tsarnaev had been identified. The defense called no witnesses during the trial.
Tazhayakov’s was the first Marathon-bombing-related case to go to trial. Kadyrbayev’s trial is planned for September. Another friend, Robel Phillipos, is accused of lying to authorities about his whereabouts the night Tsarnaev allegedly sent him and Kadyrbayev a text message saying to go to his room and “take what’s there.’’ His trial will also begin in September.
The jury, made up of seven men and five woman, deliberated for 15 hours over three days. Both Tazhayakov and his father showed no emotion as the verdict was read, according to 7News’ Steve Cooper. His mother wept, according to The Boston Globe.
Tazhayakov, a Kazakhstan national, had been held without bail since his April 20, 2013 arrest. He faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced on October 16.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.