It was announced today that a sentencing hearing has been scheduled in the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now convicted on thirty charges in relation to the 2013 bombing of the Boston marathon and the events which followed. This hearing is to take place on Wednesday 24th June. The sentencing hearings in the cases of four of Tsarnaev’s former friends and acquaintances are also scheduled to take place during the upcoming month.
Dias Kadyrbayev: (Sentencing Tuesday 2nd June.)
Kadyrbayev, detained whilst awaiting trial since April 2013, faces charges in relation to obstructing the FBI’s investigation into the bombing of the Boston marathon. It is alleged that he made false statements to the FBI and also concealed evidence. He changed his plea to one of guilty in August 2014, having entered into a plea deal with the government in exchange for a lighter sentence, and notably, following the July 2013 conviction of Azamat Tazhayakov, a former friend of both Kadyrbayev and Tsarnaev, on almost identical charges.
Azamat Tazhayakov: (Sentencing Friday 5th June.)
Tazhayakov’s circumstances are much akin to those of his former friend, Dias Kadyrbayev, with the exception of having been convicted at trial in July 2013, on charges almost identical to those to which his former friend has now entered a guilty plea and which resulted from similar alleged actions. During his trial, Tazhayakov’s defense attempted to prove that it was Kadyrbayev, and not their client, who was responsible for removing a back pack containing, amongst other items, firework casings from which the explosive powder had been removed, from Tsarnaev’s dorm room.
Robel Phillipos: (Sentencing also Friday 5th June.)
Phillipos, a friend of Tsarnaev and acquaintance of both Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov has been held on “house arrest” since April 2013 and was convicted in October 2014 on two counts of lying to FBI investigators. His defense attorneys claimed that their client was high on marijuana during his initial contact with the FBI and also succeeded in discrediting the testimony of at least one FBI agent in court. Nevertheless, the jury in this case convicted Phillipos.
All three of these young men were in their late teens in the Spring of 2013. Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov became friends with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev during the time all three were college students at UMass Dartmouth. Robel Phillipos had known Tsarnaev since their school days. None are alleged to have had any knowledge of the bombings prior to the event.
Another thing that these three former friends have in common, in addition to knowing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is that all three expressed disbelief that their mutual friend could have been responsible for the bombings. With this borne in mind I would suggest that it is likely that all three sought to protect a friend they believed had been wrongfully accused and that the greatest “crime” they may be guilty of is perhaps exercising poor judgement in their encounters with the FBI? Should anyone believe otherwise I would ask: Is over 24 months incarceration not penalty enough, for a non-violent crime, given the circumstances of both youth and no prior criminal record?
Khairullozhon Matanov: (Sentencing Thursday 18th June.)
Matanov is an admitted acquaintance of both Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It has been documented that when he recognized the Tsarnaev brothers as the suspects identified in surveillance footage released by the FBI he contacted the police and told law enforcement that he knew both suspects and volunteered contact information for both Tamerlan and Dzhokhar. Matanov was later interviewed by the FBI and was then kept under surveillance by the FBI for a period of over twelve months. During this time the FBI made contact with him on numerous occasions. He was arrested on 30th May 2013 and charged with obstructing the FBI’s investigation into the bombing of the marathon by way of destroying evidence.
In reality, Matanov’s only “crime” seems to have been in deleting files from his computer in order to minimize perception of the depth of his relationship with the Tsarnaev brothers. An understandable, even if unwise reaction, perhaps, in the event of someone with whom he was acquainted being identified as suspects in a serious crime? Again, as in the cases of Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and Phillipos, I would ask if Matanov is actually guilty of any “crime”, or is he simply guilty of poor judgement? He has now been held in solitary confinement for nearly eleven months.
On 24th March, Matanov changed his plea to guilty, despite having protested his innocence during the months prior. During this hearing, Judge Young was able to elicit statements from Matanov which indicated that his reason for changing his plea was not that he now believed himself to be guilty as charged, but rather that he believed that a jury at trial, in the city of Boston, would find him guilty regardless.
Matanov, in addition to Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and Phillipos, initially stated that he did not believe that the Tsarnaev brothers could have been responsible for the bombing.
Konstantin Morozov, Magomed Dolakov & Viskhan Vakhabov:
None of these three known acquaintances of Tamerlan Tsarnaev are facing criminal charges.
Morozov was detained on immigration charges some months ago and is now believed to be facing deportation. (If he has not already been deported.) It is said that his “immigration issues” arose after he declined the “opportunity” to become an informant for the FBI.
Dolakov, whose identity was until recently concealed, has now been identified as the “third man” who visited the gym with Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the days prior to the bombings. It was admitted in court during the Tsarnaev trial that neither Tsarnaev’s defense, who had planned to use Dolakov’s statements to the FBI, nor the prosecution, had any knowledge of this individual’s whereabouts at that time. As the FBI have kept such a close eye on so many of the Tsarnaev brothers’ associates, is this not at least a little curious?
Vakhabov refused to testify in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, (citing the Fifth), and was claimed by prosecution attorney William Weinreb to have made “inconsistent” statements to the FBI regarding his acknowledged contact with the elder Tsarnaev, three days after the bombings. If “inconsistent” statements to the FBI in the cases of others who were known to one or more of the Tsarnaev brothers led to criminal charges being filed, one might wonder why not so in this case?
More to ponder.