Boston Bombing Co-conspirator Found Guilty

Originally published on July 24, 2014, at

On the night of April 18, 2013, Dias Kadyrbayev asked UMass-Darthmouth sophomore Andrew Dwinells to enter the dorm room Dwinells shared with the alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. After Dwinells agreed to let him in, Kadyrbayev searched the room for any incriminating evidence against his friend. He left the dorm room accompanied by Azamat Tazhayakov, Robel Phillipos, and a backpack containing Tsarnaev’s laptop, thumb drive, headphones, fireworks, Vaseline, a bag of marijuana, and an astray.

Earlier that day, photos of the Boston Bombing suspects had been released. While flippantly confronting Tsarnaev about seeing his face on the news, Kadyrbayev received this text from his friend: “Ifyu want yu can go to my room and take what’s there : ) but ight bro Salam aleikum.”

Returning to their off-campus apartment with the backpack, Tazhayakov conducted internet searches related to the FBI investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings as Kadyrbayev retreated to his bedroom with his girlfriend, Bayan Kumiskali. Upon learning about the backpack, Bayan ordered her boyfriend to remove the evidence from their apartment. Kadyrbayev kept the laptop, but tossed the backpack into a dumpster.

A few hours later, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, died in a shoot-out with the police. Law enforcement officials claimed Dzhokhar ran over his brother while fleeing the gunfight. Tamerlan’s death certificate states he was “shot by police and then run over and dragged by motor vehicle.” The medical examiner determined the cause of death had been from “gunshot wounds to torso and extremities” with additional blunt trauma to Tamerlan’s head and torso.

An hour after Tamerlan’s death, Tazhayakov sent this text to his roommate Kadyrbayev: “I think they caught his brother..”

After investigating the Tsarnaev brothers’ phone records, the FBI arrested Tazhayakov, Kadyrbayev, and Bayan that afternoon. Under interrogation, Kadyrbayev admitted to taking the backpack from Tsarnaev’s dorm room and later throwing it into a dumpster behind his apartment. Bayan received immunity from prosecution while Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov were charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found hiding inside a boat parked in a backyard in Watertown, Massachusetts. Although multiple gunshots were reported, Tsarnaev was unarmed when he surrendered to federal and local law enforcement. According to court documents, Tsarnaev had received multiple gunshot wounds including a bullet to the face.

This week a jury convicted Tazhayakov of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice for his role in the removal of Tsarnaev’s backpack. Using his phone records and internet searches against him, the prosecution argued that Tazhayakov not only had foreknowledge of the bombing suspects identities, but also assisted in disposing incriminating evidence from Tsarnaev’s room before the FBI could investigate his dorm.

Although the prosecution admitted Kadyrbayev had physically taken the backpack and later dumped it in the trash, Tazhayakov could receive a maximum sentence of 25 years inside a federal penitentiary for his complicity. His sentencing is scheduled for October 16.

Facing the same charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, Kadyrbayev’s trial is scheduled to begin on September 8. Phillipos faces charges of lying to investigators about his whereabouts the night he visited Tsarnaev’s room. His trial begins September 29. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev begins his trial in November and will be facing the death penalty.

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