* Trio took backpack, fireworks from dorm room-court papers
* Two Kazakhs charged with obstructing justice
* U.S. citizen charged with lying to investigators
* Men acted as FBI led hunt for suspects-court papers
(Adds comments from suspects' attorneys)
By Scott Malone, Tim McLaughlin and Ross Kerber
BOSTON, May 1 U.S. authorities on Wednesday
charged three men with interfering with the investigation of the
Boston Marathon bombing, saying they hid fireworks and a
backpack belonging to one of the suspected bombers as a manhunt
was under way.
The three, two students from Kazakhstan and a U.S. citizen,
were described as college friends of surviving bombing suspect
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. They were not charged with direct
involvement in the April 15 marathon bombings, which killed
three people and injured 264.
But three days after the blasts, the trio moved swiftly to
cover up for their friend when the FBI released pictures of the
suspected bombers, made a public plea for help locating them and
conducted a day-long manhunt that left much of Boston on
lockdown, according to court papers.
Authorities charged the two Kazakhs, Azamat Tazhayakov and
Dias Kadyrbayev, both 19, with conspiring to obstruct justice by
disposing of a backpack containing fireworks they found in
Tsarnaev's dorm room. The third man, Robel Phillipos, also 19,
was charged with making false statements to investigators.
In their initial court appearances on Wednesday, none of the
three entered a plea. After the proceeding, an attorney for
Kadyrbayev denied wrongdoing.
"Dias Kadyrbayev absolutely denies the charges," said
attorney Robert Stahl. "He did not know that this individual was
involved in the bombing. His first inkling came much later."
Tsarnaev, who attended the University of Massachusetts at
Dartmouth, is being held at a prison hospital where he is
recovering from wounds sustained in a gun battle with police.
His older brother, Tamerlan, died in the gunfight.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov face up to five years in prison
and Phillipos faces a maximum sentence of eight years.
Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and Phillipos were placed in the
custody of U.S. Marshals after prosecutor Stephanie Siegmann
argued that all three presented a "serious risk of flight."
None of the suspects addressed the court, other than to
respond to the judge's questions. U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne
Bowler reprimanded Phillipos for not seeming to pay attention to
"I suggest you pay attention to me rather than looking
down," Bowler said.
The three suspects' attorneys said their clients were
shocked by the attacks.
"My client, Azamat Tazhayakov, feels horrible and was
shocked to hear that someone that he knew ... at the University
of Massachusetts at Dartmouth was involved with the Boston
Marathon bombing," attorney Harlan Protass said.
Phillipos' attorney, Derege Demissie, said that his client
had not assisted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. As to the charge of making
false statements, he said, "We look forward to litigating that
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov had entered the United States on
student visas and lived in New Bedford, Massachusetts, according
to the court papers. Phillipos is a resident of Cambridge,
A month prior to the bombings, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov over a meal that he knew how make a
bomb, Tazhayakov told the FBI, according to the documents.
On April 18, three days after the bombings, authorities
released pictures of two men they identified as the suspects in
the attack. Investigators at the time said they did not know the
suspects' names and called on the public for help in identifying
Dzhokhar's three classmates quickly figured out their friend
was one of the suspects, according to court papers. After seeing
Tsarnaev's photo in TV news reports, Kadyrbayev texted him to
say that he resembled the suspect, according to the complaint.
Tsarnaev's response included the phrase "lol" and "you
better not text me," as well as "come to my room and take
whatever you want," according to the court papers.
The three went to his dorm room that night and found a
roommate who said that Dzhokhar had left.
The trio spent some time watching movies and then discovered
an emptied-out fireworks tube, according to court papers. That
discovery scared Tazhayakov, who then began to believe that
Tsarnaev was involved in the bombing, according to court papers.
They decided to remove the backpack, fireworks and a laptop
to help their friend "avoid trouble," according to court papers.
Tazhayakov is currently enrolled at UMass Dartmouth but has
been suspended, the university said on Wednesday. Kadyrbayev and
Phillipos are not currently enrolled in the school.
After waking up the next morning to learn that police were
hunting for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and that his brother, Tamerlan,
was dead, Kadyrbayev decided to throw away the backpack with the
fireworks tubes inside, according to court papers. He put the
backpack and fireworks in a dumpster near his apartment.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov were arrested on immigration
violations on April 20.
Investigators recovered the backpack on April 26 in a New
Bedford landfill. In addition to the fireworks, it included a
homework assignment sheet from a class that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
was enrolled in.
In his first three interviews with police, Phillipos denied
having gone to Tsarnaev's room on April 18, but in a fourth
interrogation, on April 26, he confessed to the visit, the court
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces the possibility of execution if he
is convicted of setting off the homemade pressure-cooker bombs
in a crowd of tens of thousands of spectators at one of Boston's
best-attended sporting events.
(Additional reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Aaron Pressman
in Boston and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Grant
McCool and Jim Loney)