U.S. News


First Boston Marathon Bombing Trial Gets Underway

Azamat Tazhayakov is on trial for allegedly hiding evidence belonging to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Posted at 8:15 PM, Jul 07, 2014

The first trial related to last year's Boston Marathon bombing began Monday. But the court proceedings don't center around Boston bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Instead, prosecutors are first going after one of their friends.

The bombings killed three people and wounded 264 others. One of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a shootout with police four days later. His brother Dzhokhar was critically wounded and captured. (Via The Boston Globe)

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could get the death penalty if convicted, but his trial isn't until November. Instead, it was Azamat Tazhayakov, one of Tsarnaev's friends, who took the stand Monday to face obstruction of justice charges.

"Prosecutors telling the jury Tazhayakov and another friend, Dias Kadyrbayev, removed a backpack and a laptop computer from Tsarnaev's dorm room. ... The laptop, prosecutors say, was found in Tazhayakov's New Bedford apartment." (Via WHDH)

Prosecutors allege the two men conspired to hinder the bombing investigation by hiding Tsarnaev's personal belongings. U.S. attorney Stephanie Siegmann told the court both students knew Tsarnaev was being investigated when they went to his apartment. (Via The Wall Street Journal)

Reporters inside the courtroom tweeted out some of the prosecution's opening arguments, including pointing to an alleged conversation where Tsarnaev told Tazhayakov he knew how to make a bomb and said it was good to die as a martyr. Though Tsarnaev texted Tazhayakov the message, "Don't go thinking it's me," hours after the bombings. (Via Twitter / @scooperon7, @globepatty, @JMoNecn)

Tazhayakov's defense tried to pin most of the blame on Kadyrbayev, accusing him of dumping Tsarnaev's backpack. The defense lawyer also told the jury, "It’s not about the bombing. ... Don’t get sidetracked. Don’t get shocked and awed." (Via The New York Times)

But that might be a tough task for the defense. Attorney Jay Carney isn't part of this case, but he did once represent Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger in court. And he tells the Boston Herald overcoming the jury's preconceived notions will be especially difficult in this case.

"It will take a jury with real intestinal fortitude and courage to hold the federal government to its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, given the kind of emotional impact this case has generated."

If convicted, Tazhayakov could face up to 20 years behind bars. Kadyrbayev is set to stand trial later this year, along with Robel Phillipos, another of Tsarnaev's friends.