A Russian man who spent time with Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev just three days before the brothers detonated two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon cannot be found by either prosecutors or defense attorneys.
A transcript of a conversation that took place before jurors entered the courtroom Monday identifies the man photographed at the Wai Kru martial arts gym on April 12, 2013 as “Mr. Dolakov.’’ This man’s identity had not previously been disclosed. Other associates of Tamerlan Tsarnaev mentioned during the conversation were identified as “Mr. Vakhabov’’ and “Mr. Kartashov.’’
Prosecutors Aloke Chakravarty and William Weinreb discussed “Mr. Dolakov,’’ who Tsarnaev’s defense attorneys had hoped to call as a witness.
THE COURT: Who’s Dolakov?
MR. WEINREB: Dolakov is another friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s.
THE COURT: U.S. friend?
MR. CHAKRAVARTY: U.S. friend. He was a foreign student. He’s from the Caucasus but he’s not Chechen. He knew him—knew Tamerlan somewhat but not very well. Mr. Vakhabov knew him better because he lived here for a little bit longer together. But they did various activities together including, the Friday before the bombing, they went to the gym together. He also went to the mosque.
Defense attorney Miriam Conrad explained to Judge George O’Toole that “Mr. Dolakov’’ was nowhere to be found.
“Can’t find him. Neither can the government,’’ Conrad told the court. “Maybe he just wants to move on with his life.’’
Wai Kru’s owner, John Allan, told Boston.com he remembers being asked to help law enforcement identify “Mr. Dolakov’’ in the days and weeks after the bombings.
“They were looking for him mad hard,’’ Allan said.
Allan also recalled that when “Mr. Dolakov’’ arrived at the gym, “Tamerlan introduced him as his brother.’’
Because they aren’t able to locate Dolakov, defense attorneys want to introduce notes from his FBI interview, according to an exchange recorded in the transcript.
“Mr. Kartashov’’ was described in the transcript as another individual who the defense team hoped to call to the stand. It isn’t clear why Kartashov won’t be testifying.
Weinreb explained to O’Toole that these witnesses “are particularly important to the defense because they tell a narrative of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s radicalization, and they date it to a point earlier than when they believe Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was radicalized, and that’s very important to their theory of the case.’’
The court transcript also revealed the existence of a third individual who Tsarnaev’s attorneys hope to call as a witness.
In the transcript, defense attorney Judy Clarke expressed concern that “Mr. Vakhabov’’ will plead the Fifth Amendment if called to testify.
What crime Vakhabov may have committed is unclear. But Weinreb offered a hint, telling the court:
“I think it’s undisputed that Tamerlan Tsarnaev contacted him on April 18th, I believe, between the time that Officer Collier was murdered and the time that Dun Meng was carjacked.’’
An exhibit entered into evidence by defense attorneys shows a phone call made at 8:17 p.m. on April 18, 2013 from a phone used by one or both Tsarnaev brothers to the cell phone number of Viskhan Vakhabov.
Vakhabov, 29, is listed as a Cambridge real estate agent online. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment. Defense attorneys did not respond immediately to a request for comment.