These BBN threads usually feature comments about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He is the main defendant related to the bombings, is charged with the most counts and may possibly pay the highest price if found guilty. However, we need to remember there are others going through their own life altering battles with the government in the form of trials.
The Globe reported that Azamat Tazhayakov was convicted “of obstructing a terrorism investigation” back in July. I think this was a bit of a surprise to many in this BBN community. Aza’s defense was dependent on the jury believing he did not literally put the backpack in the dumpster. Much of the testimony pointed toward Kadyrbayev being the “one” who dropped the backpack into the dumpster. However, the jury believed Aza was fully involved in a conspiracy to hide incriminating evidence. We can only hope the court will be lenient when it comes to his sentence.
Dias Kadyrbayev was up next. I can imagine what Dias and his defense were thinking after the Tazhayakov trial: if Tazhayakov was found guilty after “not handling” the backpack, but agreeing to the idea, then Dias was certain to be found guilty. Dias accepted a plea deal and changed his plea to guilty. He will get a lesser sentence due to the plea.
So now it’s Robel Phillipos’ turn in the unpleasant spotlight. He isn’t accused of tossing the backpack. He isn’t even accused of helping to toss the backpack. He stands accused of lying, telling different stories. The indictment actually calls it “false statements and representation.”
Phillipos’ lawyers contend that he had no intention of misleading investigators. Phillipos claims he couldn’t recall the details because he was high. Phillipos was interviewed 4 times by federal agents and is accused of telling conflicting stories during these interviews. I wonder if this has anything to do with the typical FBI process of one agent asking the questions and another agent taking the notes?
From an article in the Chicago Tribune, “it is unusual for prosecutors to level a charge of lying to investigators,” according to Thomas Peisch, a partner at the law firm of Conn Kavanaugh and former federal prosecutor. “It does seem something of an overreach where the government doesn’t think enough of the misstatement to make it an obstruction charge.”
Phillipos’ charges are different (less severe) than Dias’ and Aza’s. But this is, after all, the federal government we’re talking about. And although I would personally like to see at least one acquittal in the marathon bombings series, I fear Phillipos doesn’t have a chance.
Khairullozhon Matanov is also accused of lying to investigators . . .