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Friend of accused Boston bomber asks judge to dismiss cover-up charges

Source: Reuters - Fri, 11 Apr 2014 19:24 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Scott Malone

BOSTON, April 11 (Reuters) - Attorneys for one of the friends of the accused Boston Marathon bomber charged with helping to cover his tracks asked a judge on Friday to dismiss the criminal charges against their client, calling them unconstitutionally vague.

Kazakh exchange student Dias Kadyrbayev also asked U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock through attorneys to strike references to "terrorism" and any "inflammatory" description of the damage caused by the bombing attack. In court papers, attorneys note that Kadyrbayev was not involved in the attack itself but simply charged with removing items from the accused bomber's dormitory room three days later.

"Terrorism is not an element of the charges, and this incredibly loaded term, particularly in the minds of anyone in the Boston area where this horrific event occurred only one short year ago, and which implies a looming and terrifying force that threatens the existence of each and every juror, is unfairly prejudicial," Kadyrbayev's attorneys wrote in papers filed in Boston federal court in Friday.

The April 15, 2013, bombings killed three people and injured 264.

Kadyrbayev is one of three friends of accused marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to face criminal charges for going to Tsarnaev's dorm room three days after the attack, while police were hunting the suspected bomber, and removing a backpack containing empty fireworks shells and a laptop.

The other two friends are Azamat Tazhayakov, also of Kazakhstan, and Robel Phillipos of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov face charges of obstruction of justice and lying to investigators, which carry the penalty of up to 25 years in prison, while Phillipos faces a less serious charge of lying to investigators, which carries a possible 16-year sentence.

The Kazakhs have been held in federal custody on immigration violations since their arrest days after the attack. Phillipos is out on bail.

Kadyrbayev's attorneys argued that prosecutors have not shown that their client understood he was violating any laws.

"The indictment fails to allege that Kadyrbayev had knowledge that his conduct would likely obstruct justice, or any consciousness of his wrongdoing," defense attorneys argued.

Judge Woodlock has set a June trial date for the three friends and last month urged both sides to streamline their preparations, saying they were overcomplicating matters by reviewing reams of evidence linked to the Tsarnaev case.

Tazhayakov and Phillipos did not join Kadyrbayev in making the request. (Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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