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US urges judge to reject request by Tsarnaev friends

Two associates seek dismissal of bomb-related charges

Azamat Tazhayakov (left) and Dias Kadyrbayev (center) posed with Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in an undated photo taken in New York.

REUTERS

Azamat Tazhayakov (left) and Dias Kadyrbayev (center) posed with Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in an undated photo taken in New York.

Federal prosecutors urged a judge Friday to reject a request by the friends of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev to dismiss charges the friends face related to the bombing investigation, saying the requests are “without merit.”

Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, students from Kazakhstan who attended the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with Tsarnaev, had argued in separate court filings that the charges they face are too vague to withstand legal challenges and should be dismissed.

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Kadyrbayev had also asked a judge to dismiss what he called “suplusage,” or excessive allegations against him unrelated to the core indictment, but prosecutors also opposed that request Friday.

“The allegations the defendant seeks to strike are directly relevant to the crimes charges,” prosecutors argued. “The law is clear that allegations in an indictment that the government intends to prove at trial cannot be stricken as surplusage, regardless of prejudice.”

The court filings Friday were part of an ongoing series of filings in recent days by both prosecutors and defense lawyers as they prepare for trial, scheduled for June in US District Court in Boston. Defense lawyers have asked that their trial be relocated outside the Boston district, but prosecutors have not yet responded to that request.

Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov, both 20, were arrested days after the April 15, 2013, bombings after they allegedly went into Tsarnaev’s dorm room — after he texted Kadyrbayev saying “if you want you can go to my room and take what’s there” — and removed some of his belongings, including his computer and a backpack containing fireworks. They allegedly threw the backpack in the trash, though authorities later recovered it from a New Bedford landfill.

They have been charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and aiding and abetting to obstruct justice and face up to 20 years in prison. They also face deportation.

Robel Phillipos, 20, who knew Tsarnaev from high school and from UMass Dartmouth, was also charged with lying to authorities about being with Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov when they went into Tsarnaev’s room.

He faces up to eight years in prison, though his lawyers have asked a judge to dismiss the case, saying he could not recall the visit to the dorm room because he was high on marijuana.

Tsarnaev, now 20, faces the death penalty if convicted of setting off the bombs at the Marathon finish line, which killed three people and injured more than 260. He and his brother and alleged accomplice, Tamerlan, also allegedly shot and killed an MIT police officer. Tamerlan was killed during a confrontation with police in Watertown.

On Friday, a federal judge agreed to give lawyers for Tsarnaev more time to disclose to prosecutors whether they plan to call any mental health specialists at trial and more time to disclose what evidence they will present.

Also, prosecutors said in court filings that they have provided US District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. with information about Ibragim Todashev, a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev who allegedly implicated Tamerlan in a 2011 triple homicide in Waltham.

Todashev was fatally shot in his Florida home in May 2013 by an FBI agent while Todashev was being interrogated about the homicide. The FBI later said the agent shot Todashev in self defense after he attacked the agent with a metal broomstick.

Federal prosecutors had refused to provide some of the information about Todashev to Tsarnaev’s defense lawyers, but O’Toole said he will review the information in private, to see if prosecutors have an obligation to turn it over.

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at mvalencia@ globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.
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