Tsarnaev friend’s texts, searches at issue in trial

Name tags were affixed to the dorm room door of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Andrew Dwinells.
Associated Press via U.S. Attorney's Office
Name tags were affixed to the dorm room door of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Andrew Dwinells.

Early on the morning of April 19, 2013, after the chaotic shootout in Watertown, with Tamerlan Tsarnaev lying dead and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the run from police, Azamat Tazhayakov allegedly sent a text message to another one of Dzokhar Tsarnaev’s friends.

“I think they caught his brother,” the message allegedly said.

An FBI agent revealed the contents of the message, sent at 2:28 a.m. that day, in testimony in Tazhayakov’s trial in US District Court in Boston.


Tazhayakov, along with two other friends, is accused of hindering the investigation into the Boston Marathon terror bombing, which was allegedly perpetrated by the Tsarnaev brothers.

Jane Flavell Collins/Associated Press
A courtroom sketch shows defendant Azamat Tazhayakov.
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Prosecutors have alleged that Tazhayakov and his friend Dias Kadyrbayev knew who the bombers were hours before the FBI released their names later that morning. The names were released at about 6:50 a.m.

FBI Agent James Scripture, who examined electronic devices recovered in the investigation, also testified today that Tazhayakov used his iPhone to conduct Google searches using Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s name — as well as words related to the Miranda rights of suspects in police custody.

Tazhayakov’s defense has sought to shift blame away from him. The other two defendants are being tried separately.

Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev, both 20 and natives of the central Asian nation of Kazakhstan, face a maximum of 20 years in prison for their alleged role in removing Tsarnaev’s backpack, which contained opened fireworks, and Tsarnaev’s laptop from Tsarnaev’s University of Massachusetts Dartmouth dorm room on the night of April 18.


Robel Phillipos, 20, of Cambridge, faces charges of lying to investigators about his whereabouts that night and could face an eight-year sentence.

Testimony so far has cast new light on Tsarnaev’s alleged actions and demeanor in the period leading up to and after the bombing.

Earlier this morning, roommate Andrew Dwinells said he once heard Tsarnaev talking about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a government conspiracy.

RELATED: Tsarnaev’s roommate found friends’ visit odd

In his second day of testimony, Dwinells said he never thought his roommate was unpatriotic — Tsarnaev commented after watching a television show about 9/11 — and that he never imagined Tsarnaev could be responsible for the terror explosions on April 15, 2013, near the race’s finish line.

Dwinells testified Tuesday that he and Tsarnaev were not close and were assigned randomly to the room. He said Wednesday that the only item that he saw Azamat Tazhayakov take from the room was a set of headphones, saying Tsarnaev had borrowed them.

Associated Press
Dias Kadyrbayev, left, and Azamat Tazhayakov appear in a previous courtroom sketch.

Dias Kadyrbayev was the person rummaging through Tsarnaev’s things, Dwinells testified, as Tazhayakov and Phillipos watched television during the half-hour visit.

Jurors today also began watching a videotaped interview with Bayan Kumiskali, girlfriend of Dias Kadyrbayev and also a native of Kazakhstan.

Kumiskali described the friendship between the Kadyrbayev and Tsarnaev: “They’d smoke marijuana and just hang out.”

Tsarnaev faces charges that could bring him the death penalty in the Marathon bombings, which killed three people and wounded more than 260 others. He allegedly planted the bombs with his older brother, Tamerlan. The two also allegedly murdered an MIT police officer in Cambridge.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed when he was shot by police and run over by his own brother in the early morning hours of April 19 in Watertown. He was officially pronounced dead at 1:35 a.m. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev escaped, slipping through the shadows, but was captured later in the day, hiding in a boat stored in a nearby back yard. He is being held at a federal prison facility in Devens.

Patricia Wen can be reached at