BOSTON – A college friend of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect could testify in court in an effort to suppress evidence for his own upcoming trial, which a judge ruled does not need to be moved from Massachusetts in order to be fair.
Dias Kadyrbayev is charged with tampering with evidence for removing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's laptop and a backpack containing fireworks from his University of Massachusetts Dartmouth dorm room shortly after last year's bombing.
Kadyrbayev was expected to take the stand Wednesday, one day after U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock ruled that a motion of suppression will not be considered without the defendant being questioned. Two other friends of Tsarnaev who have been charged, Azamat Tazhayakov and Robel Phillipos, declined to testify. Their attorneys said they likely will revisit the suppression motion at trial.
Robert Stahl, who represents Kadyrbayev, said the confessions were obtained without a lawyer present, under strenuous and lengthy circumstances and without a search or arrest warrant. He also adds that they were held shirtless for several hours, despite asking repeatedly for a shirt.
FBI agent John Walker, who questioned Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov days after the bombings, testified that the two men agreed to be questioned and that Kadyrbayev consented in a written statement that the FBI could search the apartment. But the defense argues that there was enough time to obtain an official search warrant.
According to Walker, a signal from one of Tsarnaev's cellphones led investigators to believe he was hiding inside the friends' apartment. He said the FBI therefore believed the two men knew the whereabouts of a dangerous fugitive. If the two did not come in willingly, the FBI would have arrested them, he said.
The men will be tried separately in Massachusetts starting with Tazhayakov on June 30, followed by Kadyrbayev on Sept. 8 and Phillipos on Sept. 29.
If need be, the trial will be moved to Springfield, 80 miles west of Boston.
A Boston Marathon bombing survivor on a prosthetic leg and wearing a "Boston Strong" shirt watched the hearing Wednesday. Marc Fucarile lost his right leg and suffered a severe burn on his left leg in the April 15, 2013, blast that killed three. He was the last of the more than 260 injured to leave the hospital.
Tazhayakov also is charged with evidence tampering. Kadyrbayev also faces conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges. The two have been held without bail for more than a year and could face a maximum of five years in prison. They are Kazakhstan nationals living in the U.S. illegally and could face deportation.
Phillipos, of Cambridge, is charged with lying to investigators. He has been held under house arrest and could face a maximum of eight years in prison.
Each of them pleaded not guilty.
Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges related to the deadly bombing. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died after a gunbattle with police three days later, the night Massachusetts Institute of Technology security officer Sean Collier was shot and killed. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is facing state charges in Collier's death.
Tsarnaev's trial is set to begin in November.