Lawyers for Robel Phillipos attempted to convince a federal jury that he had not deliberately lied to investigators after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. They also hoped the panel would find that his statements did not directly involve a terrorism investigation.
On Tuesday, the jury returned a verdict that rejected Phillipos’ key arguments, making the 21-year-old from Cambridge eligible to face the harshest sentence possible for the two counts against him: eight years in prison on each. He is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 29.
Phillipos, a friend of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was convicted of lying to authorities about what he saw the night of April 18, 2013, three days after the terror attack, when two of his friends took evidence from Tsarnaev’s dorm room.
Because the jury concluded that the lies were linked to a terror investigation, Phillipos faces a stiffer penalty than the typical five-year sentence for giving false statements.
Phillipos was not accused of tampering with the evidence, nor playing any role in the Marathon attack.
But he was accused of telling a total of nine lies over the course of two interrogations — one on April 20, 2013 and another on April 25. Jurors found him guilty him of five lies over both days. The convictions required only that he be found to have misled investigators once on each occasion.
The jury did not find that Phillipos lied by saying he didn’t see his friends remove the backpack and fireworks from the dorm room, or by telling investigators that he wasn’t involved in discussions about getting rid of those items.
Here’s a rundown of the guilty findings. The numbers of the allegations are as listed in court records:
Count 1 - April 20
False statement 1: Phillipos initially told investigators he did not remember going to Tsarnaev’s dorm room on April 18, 2013.
Prosecutors said that he was in fact with Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov when the two friends removed items including a backpack that contained manipulated fireworks.
False statement 2: Phillipos later said he had gone to the dorm earlier in the afternoon, and returned around 10 p.m. with Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov. He said the door was locked and nobody went in.
Count 2 - April 25
False statement 1: Phillipos told investigators that he only entered the dorm room once on April 18, 2013. He said he was there in the afternoon, when he spoke to Tsarnaev for about 10 minutes.
Prosecutors said in court that Phillipos and the other friends went to the dorm room after recognizing Tsarnaev in FBI images released earlier in the evening.
False statement 5: Philipos said neither he, Kadyrbayev, nor Tazhayakov took a backpack from the dorm room. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov have both since been convicted of obstructing justice, and are awaiting sentencing.
False statement 6: Phillipos also said he was not aware that either of his friends took anything from the dorm room. Authorities said he did know what they took and deliberately misled investigators.