Jane Flavell Collins via AP

Friend of Boston Marathon bomber sentenced to prison

Azamat Tazhayakov was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction for removing Tsarnaev’s backpack from his dorm room

A college friend of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced Friday to 3 1/2 years in prison after he tearfully apologized to the residents of Boston for impeding the investigation into the 2013 attack while authorities frantically searched for the suspects.

Azamat Tazhayakov was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice last year for removing Tsarnaev's backpack from his dorm room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth with another friend. The backpack contained fireworks that had been emptied of their explosive powder.

"There is no question that this was a very serious offense — the failure to act properly when confronted with the devastating event," said U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock. 

Tazhayakov denounced Tsarnaev's actions Friday before he was sentenced, saying the decision to bomb the marathon made him sick. Tazhayakov's father wept in the courtroom as his son apologized for what he did.

Prosecutors recommended a four-year sentence for Tazhayakov. His lawyer asked the judge to sentence him to time already served in custody, or 26 months.

Another college friend of Tsarnaev's, Robel Phillipos, was due to be sentenced Friday afternoon.

Phillipos was convicted of lying to the FBI days after the bombings. Former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, a friend of Phillipos' family, wrote a letter of support for him and even testified during his trial.

In his letter to the judge, Dukakis wrote that he "can't understand why justice would be served by incarcerating him."

Prosecutors said Friday that they are seeking a sentence of a little over five years for Phillipos.

Dias Kadyrbayev, a third friend of Tsarnaev's, was sentenced Tuesday to six years in prison for not calling police after he recognized photos of Tsarnaev as a suspect. Kadyrbayev pleaded guilty last year to obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges for removing items from Tsarnaev's dorm room after recognizing him in photos released by the FBI days after the bombing.

Three people were killed, and more than 260 were injured in the bombing, on April 15, 2013. Tsarnaev, 21, has been condemned to death by a federal jury and is awaiting formal sentencing on June 24.

Prosecutors say there is no evidence any of the friends knew of plans by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, to bomb the marathon. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after a shootout with police days after the bombings. 

The Associated Press

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