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Friend Of Accused Boston Marathon Bomber To Plead Guilty To Obstruction Of Justice

Denise Lavoie, AP Legal Affairs Writer
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BOSTON (AP) — A college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev plans to plead guilty to impeding the investigation into the deadly attack, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Dias Kadyrbayev, 20, is accused of removing a backpack containing emptied-out fireworks from Tsarnaev’s dorm room after realizing he was suspected of carrying out the 2013 attack with his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Prosecutors said Kadyrbayev and another friend, Azamat Tazhayakov, decided to take the items from Tsarnaev’s room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth several days after two bombs exploded near the finish line of the marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 260. The items, along with Tsarnaev’s laptop computer, were removed hours after the FBI publicly released photographs of Tsarnaev and his brother as suspects in the bombing.

Tazhayakov was convicted last month.

During his trial, witnesses said Kadyrbayev took the backpack and threw it in the trash, while Tazhayakov was convicted of agreeing with the plan to remove the items.

Kadyrbayev was scheduled to go on trial next month on obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges.

An electronic notice filed Wednesday said Kadyrbayev is expected to be in court Thursday for a change-of-plea hearing. His lawyer, Robert Stahl, confirmed that he intends to plead guilty, but wouldn’t say whether he would admit to one or both charges. Stahl also declined to say whether he and prosecutors have agreed on a joint sentencing recommendation.

The charges against both Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov carry a maximum of 25 years in prison.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

During Tazhayakov’s trial, prosecutors said the items were removed from Tsarnaev’s room hours after Kadyrbayev received a text message from Tsarnaev saying he could go to his dorm room and “take what’s there.”

The backpack and fireworks were recovered later in a New Bedford landfill. Prosecutors said the fireworks had been emptied of explosive powder that can be used to make bombs.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police several days after the bombings. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted. His trial is scheduled to begin in November.

A third college friend, Robel Phillipos, of Cambridge, is charged with lying to federal investigators. He is scheduled to go on trial next month.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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