BOSTON (AP) — Statements made by two friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev following the deadly 2013 bombing can be used at their trial, a federal judge said Thursday.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Robel Phillipos declined to testify this week during a hearing over statements they made under questioning by federal agents. U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock said he would not throw out their statements.
A third friend, Dias Kadyrbayev, had been expected to testify Friday, but Woodlock said that will be postponed about two weeks until after testimony from an expert witness.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov are accused of removing a backpack containing fireworks and a laptop from Tsarnaev’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth several days after the bombings. Phillipos is accused of lying to investigators.
None of the men are accused of participating in the bombing or knowing about it ahead of time.
Prosecutors and the men’s attorneys are arguing over whether the statements were voluntary and can be used as evidence in the upcoming trials. Prosecutors have said the men willingly spoke to federal agents after being told of their right to remain silent and to contact a lawyer. The three men face separate trials.
Also on Thursday, prosecutors disclosed that a lawyer claiming to represent the friends called the state police barracks while they were being questioned, but the men were never told about the call.
In the court filing, prosecutors said a state trooper took a call from a man who identified himself as an attorney and said he didn’t want the men answering any questions. The trooper said he told a federal agent about the call.
The filing included an email exchange from Wednesday between the trooper and one of the agents who questioned Kadyrbayev. The trooper said the lawyer said he was contacted by the state’s public defender agency and told to call the barracks.
The trooper said he “had no idea whether the caller was an actual attorney or some crackpot who was calling due to the media coverage.”
The trooper said he told the attorney that one of the agents had just told him that Kadyrbayev, who was being questioned at the time, had been “cooperative and had agreed to speak with them of his own free will.”
The trooper said he told one of the federal agents involved in interviewing Kadyrbayev about the attorney’s call. Kadyrbayev’s lawyer argues that conversation should have trigged “numerous legal consequences” that mean the statements should be suppressed.
In their filing, prosecutors say agents involved in the questioning recalled being told of the conversation “after the defendants had made all the admissions they made that night regarding entering Tsarnaev’s dorm room and removing items.”
Two bombs placed near the finish line of the 2013 marathon killed three people and injured more than 260. Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and is awaiting trial in November. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, also a suspect in the bombings, died following a shootout with police several days later.