Accused Boston bomber's friend recognized suspect: agent

A friend of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, facing trial on charges of obstructing the investigation into the deadly blasts, recognized the man the FBI was seeking hours before he was publicly identified, an agent testified on Tuesday.

Sara Wood of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was part of a team of law officers who surrounded the Massachusetts apartment shared by Azamat Tazhayakov and a fellow Kazakh exchange student days after the attack and questioned them about their friend, bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Tazhayakov, 20, is the first of three Tsarnaev friends to be tried on charges of interfering with the investigation of the blasts, which killed thee people and injured 264. They are accused of removing a laptop and backpack containing fireworks from Tsarnaev's dorm room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth late on April 18, 2013, hours after the FBI released photos of the bombing suspects.

Tazhayakov learned from his roommate Dias Kadyrbayev that the FBI had released photos of a man Kadyrbayev recognized as Tsarnaev, whom the FBI was searching for as the suspected bomber, Wood said in the first full day of testimony in Tazhayakov's trial at the U.S. District Court in Boston.

"The defendant said Thursday the 18th he had received a phone call from Dias and asked, 'Have you seen the news?'" Wood said. "The defendant was informed by Dias that Dzhokhar was on the news as being suspected of being involved with the Boston Marathon bombing.

Wood described Tazhayakov as calm and cooperative during the interview, discussing soccer and hockey as well as his relationship with Tsarnaev, a fellow Russian speaker who he met at college.

Tazhayakov's attorney on Monday said that his client, who has pleaded not guilty, never touched the laptop or backpack, contending that had been the work of Kadyrbayev, who is awaiting trial later this year.

Prosecutors contended that the two and a third friend, Robel Phillipos of Cambridge, Massachusetts, intended to help cover Tsarnaev's tracks when they went to his dorm.

Tazhayakov could face 25 years in prison if convicted of charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy. Kadyrbayev faces the same charges, while Phillipos faces the lesser charge of lying to investigators.

None of the three men have been accused of a role in planning the bombing, which prosecutors contend was the work of Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, who died after a gun battle with police on the night of April 18, 2013.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is awaiting trial on charges that carry the death penalty if convicted.


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