A college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been found guilty of impeding the investigation into the deadly attack.Azamat Tazhayakov was convicted by a jury on Monday on obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges.
Prosecutors said Tazhayakov conspired with his roommate Dias Kadyrbayev to remove items from Tsarnaev’s dorm room after the FBI identified him as a suspect in the marathon bombings.
The guilty verdict marks the first conviction stemming from the attack that killed three people and injured more than 260 others on April 15, 2013.
Tazhayakov faces a 20-year maximum jail term for obstruction and a five-year maximum for conspiracy. Sentencing is scheduled for October 16.
His mother sobbed loudly and rocked in her seat as the jury announced its decision in a Boston courtroom after three days of deliberation.
A lawyer for the former University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth student said during the trial that his client was a naive college kid who was prosecuted because he was a “friend of the bomber”.
FBI agents testified that Tazhayakov admitted he took a backpack, fireworks and Tsarnaev’s laptop computer after Kadyrbayev received a text message from Tsarnaev that said he could “take what’s there”.
Prosecutors acknowledged that Kadyrbayev actually threw away the items, but said Tazhayakov agreed to the plan.
Jurors heard during the trial that Tsarnaev sent Tazhayakov a text message 90 minutes after the attack that said: “Don’t go thinking it’s me.”
They also heard that Tsarnaev told his friends a month before the bombings that “it was good to die” a martyr because you would die “with a smile on your face and go straight to heaven”.
Kadyrbayev and a third friend, Robel Phillipos, are awaiting trial. Phillipos is accused of lying to investigators.
Both have pleaded not guilty.
Tsarnaev’s trial is set for November. He has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction.
His older brother and alleged accomplice, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a shoot-out with police days after the bombings.