Bomb Suspect’s Friends Told to Toss Bag, Girlfriend SaysErik Larson and Janelle Lawrence
The girlfriend of one of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s college friends said she was enraged when the three men showed up with the suspect’s backpack at their apartment.
Bayan Kumiskali, who dated obstruction suspect Dias Kadyrbayev, said her boyfriend didn’t seem to realize the gravity of having the bag in their apartment, even though it held components of fireworks, according to a videotaped deposition shown today in Boston federal court.
Kumiskali said the confrontation took place after the men returned from Tsarnaev’s dorm room on April 18, 2013, three days after the bombing at the marathon finish line that killed three people and wounded 260. Tsarnaev’s photo was shown on TV that night after federal agents said he was a suspect who hadn’t been identified. Kumiskali and the three friends all suspected it was Tsarnaev, she said.
“If the person on the TV is actually Dzhokhar, then whatever this is might be evidence,” she said she told Kadyrbayev, referring to the backpack. “I said I didn’t want it in the apartment -- get it out of the apartment.”
Prosecutors claim the three men threw the bag in a dumpster outside the building. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which eventually captured Tsarnaev and interviewed his friends, recovered the backpack from a landfill about a week later.
Kumiskali is a prosecution witness in the trial of Azamat Tazhayakov, who shared the apartment with Kadyrbayev. The two men are accused of obstructing justice by removing the backpack, a laptop and other incriminating evidence from Tsarnaev’s dorm room to protect him. A third friend, Robel Phillipos, is accused of making false statements to authorities about what he knew.
The three aren’t accused of participating in the bombing or knowing about it in advance.
The men sought separate trials to distance themselves from each other. Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev, both from Kazakhstan, were in the U.S. on student visas. Phillipos is a U.S. citizen. Kumiskali, who is also from Kazakhstan and has known Kadyrbayev since the sixth grade, was granted immunity in the case.
Andrew Dwinells, Tsarnaev’s roommate at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, testified yesterday that the suspect acted normal in the days after the attack, playing video games and sleeping. He said he never saw any of the men who visited the dorm take the backpack or laptop.
Defense lawyers have argued that after Tazhayakov was arrested and taken to the Massachusetts State Police barracks for questioning, he was coerced into waiving his right to a lawyer.
The jury today was shown a video from the facility’s surveillance cameras showing Tazhayakov arriving handcuffed and shirtless. Upon arrival, he asked to use the bathroom and wasn’t allowed to until nine minutes later, after he signed the waiver, his lawyers said.
FBI agents said at the trial that they had to wait until “the lobby cleared.”
Tsarnaev, 20, who faces a possible death sentence if convicted, is scheduled for trial beginning Nov. 3. He has pleaded not guilty, though his defense team hasn’t denied he helped carry out the attack. They have said they intend to focus blame on Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, who died in a police shootout.
The case against the three friends is U.S. v. Kadyrbayev, 13-cr-10238, and the Tsarnaev case is U.S. v. Tsarnaev, 13-cr-10200, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).