Jury out until Monday on Tsarnaev friend’s case

Azamat Tazhayakov is shown in a courtroom sketch.
Associated Press
Azamat Tazhayakov is shown in a courtroom sketch.

Jury deliberations will resume Monday in the trial of a former University of Massachusetts Dartmouth student accused of helping to get rid of evidence to protect his friend, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, while the Boston Marathon bombing suspect was on the run.

Around 4 p.m. Thursday, US District Judge Douglas Woodlock said one of the 12 jurors in the trial of Azamat Tazhayakov, 20, had become sick and was advised to go home for the day.

Friday’s deliberations were canceled because Woodlock had a prior commitment to sit in Springfield.


The jury deliberated for less than three hours Wednesday, and while they started deliberations Thursday at about 9 a.m., it is unclear how long they discussed the case, given the juror’s illness. The panel asked the judge one question Thursday, about whether each juror — or just the foreman — had to sign the jury slip when they reach a verdict.

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Tazhayakov is the first of three friends of Tsarnaev to go to trial on charges of interfering with the investigation of the bombing, which killed three and injured more than 260.

Prosecutors say Tazhayakov and his off-campus roommate removed a backpack containing fireworks and a laptop from Tsarnaev’s UMass Dartmouth dorm room the night of April 18, 2013, shortly after the FBI released photos of the two suspected bombers.

Prosecutors say the friends removed the items to protect Tsarnaev, whom they recognized in the FBI photos.

Defense attorneys say that Tazhayakov did not obstruct justice, that it was his roommate, Dias Kadyrbayev, who alone initiated and acted out the coverup scheme.


A third friend, Robel Phillipos, who also went to Tsarnaev’s dormitory room, is charged with lying to investigators about his whereabouts that night.

Tsarnaev is accused of plotting the Marathon bombing with his brother Tamerlan, who died in the early morning hours of April 19, 2013, in a shootout with police. His trial is scheduled for November, and he faces the death penalty if convicted.

Tazhayakov faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if he is convicted of obstruction of justice and up to five years if convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Defense lawyer Nicholas Wooldridge said outside the courthouse Thursday that he “is praying for that not-guilty verdict.”

He said that when the jury asked about the procedure for filling out a verdict slip today, he thought they might have reached a conclusion, but that was not the case.


“So the game continues, and that’s it,” Wooldridge said. “It’s hard to read into this stuff.”

Tazhayakov’s father, Amir Ismagulov, said that his son is scared and that the family is “very concerned.”

Speaking through a translator, Ismagulov said that during the three-day break until the jury returns, his “hair will get whiter.”

“The longer [the] jury deliberates, the more we’re concerned because of the lack of knowledge and lack of result and finality,” he said.

Zachary T. Sampson can be reached at zachary.sampson@
. Follow him on Twitter @ZackSampson. Patricia Wen can be reached at