Azamat Tazhayakov, a college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, appeared in court today for one of the final hearings before his trial on charges of hindering the bombing investigation begins on July 7.
Along with fellow Kazakhstan native Dias Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov faces charges of conspiring to obstruct justice and obstructing justice with the intent to impede a terrorism investigation.
Authorities have said the two young men — who knew Tsarnaev as students at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth — hindered the investigation by taking a backpack containing fireworks and a laptop from Tsarnaev’s dorm room back to their off-campus apartment after authorities had released pictures of Tsarnaev and his brother, who also allegedly participated in the terror attack.
The two Kazakhs allegedly threw the backpack in a dumpster. Investigators say they later found it in a New Bedford landfill.
Though the trial date is rapidly approaching, one key issue — whether Tazhayakov voluntarily spoke to investigating agents when he was taken into custody — is still up in the air. US District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock said his inclination is to wait to decide whether Tazhayakov’s statements were voluntary, and thus admissible in court, until after the jury is sworn in in about two weeks.
Tazhayakov wore a blue suit and smiled at his attorneys, but did not speak in court today. Outside the courthouse after the hearing, his father declined to comment, saying he spoke only Russian.
Tsarnaev, 20, along with his brother, Tamerlan, is accused of planting the bombs that exploded on April 15, 2013, near the Boston Marathon finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. Prosecutors say the two brothers also killed an MIT police officer. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a shootout with police several days later in Watertown. Later the same day, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was captured.