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Lawyer For Friend Of Marathon Bombing Suspect Says He Turned Down Plea Deal

Denise Lavoie, Associated Press
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Azamat Tazhayakov, right, is the first of marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's friends to go to trial on charges of removing items from Tsarnaev's dorm room during the investigation.

Azamat Tazhayakov, right, is the first of marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s friends to go to trial on charges of removing items from Tsarnaev’s dorm room during the investigation.

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BOSTON (CBS/AP) – A lawyer for a friend of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect said Monday that he rejected a plea deal offered to his client, who he said “knows he’s not guilty.”

The defendant, Azamat Tazhayakov, and another man are accused of removing items from the dorm room of their friend, bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, days after the deadly bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 260.

Tazhayakov’s lawyer, Matthew Myers, told reporters after a pretrial hearing that prosecutors offered him a deal to plead to reduced charges but he turned it down. Myers would not disclose the terms of the offer.

“He knows he’s not guilty,” Myers said of Tazhayakov. “He’s confident.”

A spokeswoman for prosecutors did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Jury selection is slated to begin next week in Tazhayakov’s trial. Nicholas Wooldridge, another lawyer representing Tazhayakov, said the defense is hopeful of finding an impartial jury, but he acknowledged it could be challenging because of the impact the bombing had in Boston and the surrounding area.

“Even though this case is not the Boston Marathon bombing case, still people have a connection with that,” Wooldridge said.

Authorities say Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, planted the bombs near the finish line of the marathon last year. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police days later.

Also on Monday, a judge rejected a bail request from a friend of Tsarnaev while he awaits trial on charges of impeding the investigation. That friend, Khairullozhon Matanov, is accused of deleting computer files and lying to investigators in the marathon probe.

Prosecutors said Matanov had dinner with both Tsarnaevs hours after the bombings. He is not charged with participating in the bombings or knowing about them in advance.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and is awaiting a November trial.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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