June 3 (Bloomberg) -- A former college friend of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev testified he was so traumatized by federal agents who raided his apartment that he never thought he could refuse to answer their questions.
Dias Kadyrbayev, 20, is seeking to have a federal judge bar the government from using his statements at trial, arguing that he was coerced during questioning after the 2013 raid, which took place during a manhunt across the metropolitan Boston area. Kadyrbayev was later charged with obstructing justice and disposing of evidence for retrieving Tsarnaev’s computer and some fireworks from his dorm room.
Two other friends of Tsarnaev, also accused of conspiring to thwart the probe after the April 2013 attack, failed to persuade the judge to throw out admissions they had made to agents following the raid.
The bombing killed three people and injured hundreds. Tsarnaev faces trial later this year and could be sentenced to death if convicted. The three friends, who all deny wrongdoing, aren’t accused in the bombing itself, the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001.
Speaking to reporters yesterday outside the courthouse after testimony concluded for the day, Kadyrbayev’s attorney, Robert Stahl, said his client is pleased the judge is hearing about the circumstances surrounding his interrogation and his signature on a form acknowledging he waived his right to silence.
“It has to be a knowing, intelligent, voluntary waiver and that’s the issue being fleshed out for the judge today,” Stahl said.
During his testimony, Kadyrbayev described an ordeal that began when he was napping and federal agents descended on his apartment. He said he could see a sniper’s red laser dots placed on his girlfriend’s head and heard a man on a bullhorn outside demanding, “Dzhokhar come out!”
He and and two friends came out of the apartment with their hands up and complied with agents’ orders to take off their shirts, drop their pants and submit to plastic handcuffs, he said.
Kadyrbayev testified he was taken to a state police barracks shirtless and in cuffs and was interrogated for hours.
“Did you think you could say ‘I want a lawyer. I can stop this?’” Stahl asked.
“No,” he testified.
“Why didn’t you think you could say, ‘Guys I‘ve had enough. I’m tired. I’m hungry. I want to go home?’” Stahl asked.
Kadyrbayev replied, “Just what happened to me before. It’s just all the guns, lasers pointed, I just felt ... I ain’t free.”
As the manhunt for Tsarnaev, 20, and his brother spread across Boston, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller ordered the apartment searched without a warrant, FBI Special Agent John Walker testified May 13. Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, who was also charged with obstruction, shared the apartment.
The three men want their statements to be excluded from their trials. They’re being tried separately from Tsarnaev, whose trial is scheduled to begin in November.
The case is U.S. v. Kadyrbayev, 13-cr-10238, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston). The Tsarnaev case is U.S. v. Tsarnaev, 13-cr-10200, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).
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