Robel Phillipos: Friend of Boston bomber asks for release after allegedly lying to investigators

Robel Phillipos, 19, of Cambridge allegedly lied to investigators to cover accused Boston bomber's tracks. PHOTO: NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
Robel Phillipos, 19, of Cambridge allegedly lied to investigators to cover accused Boston bomber’s tracks. PHOTO: NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

Lawyers for Robel Phillipos, a teen charged with lying to investigators after the Boston Marathon bombings, want a federal judge to release him from jail on the basis that he was not behind the terror attack and does not pose a flight risk.

Phillipos, 19, of Cambridge, is due in U.S. District Court Monday for a detention hearing , where his defense is expected to deny authorities’ claim that Phillipos gave them conflicting accounts.

“This case is about a frightened and confused 19-year-old who was subjected to intense questioning and interrogation, without the benefit of counsel, and in the context of one of the worst attacks against the nation,” lawyers Derege Demissie and Susan Church wrote. “The weight of the federal government under such circumstances can have a devastatingly crushing effect on the ability of an adolescent to withstand the enormous pressure and respond rationally.”

Last week Phillipos was charged with lying to federal investigators about visiting bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s college dorm room on April 18, three days after the bombings. Two other friends, Dias Kadyrbayev, 19, Azamat Tazhayakov, 20, were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by taking a backpack with fireworks and a laptop from Tsarnaev’s dorm room.

Prosecutors said Phillipos confessed to lying on April 26. He faces up to eight years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Phillipos lawyers claim he was at the university “by sheer coincidence and bad luck,” and that he had taken a leave of absence in December and hadn’t spoken to Tsarnaev or the other two men for more than two months.

In an affidavit, Philipos’ mother, Genet Bekele, wrote: “My son wants nothing more than the opportunity to clear his name. My whole family is  in complete shock over the accusation made against him. We are all in disbelief that this is actually happening to our family…The whole family is committed to helping him fight the charged filed against him.”

She said she has “no doubt” that Phillipos will abide by any condition of release.

Defense lawyers described the teen as “friendly, kind, and genuine.”

“The charge has ruined his once bright future. He will suffer its enduring and devastating effect for the rest of his life. The only way he can salvage his future is by clearing his name,” his lawyers wrote. “He is committed to do just that.”

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt near home of suspect's…

A police manhunt intensified on Friday for the gunman who killed an officer and wounded another in an ambush at a Pennsylvania police barracks a week ago.

Local

MAP: New York City street closures, September 19,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on September 19, 20 and 21. There will be many streets and…

Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Movies

Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…

Movies

Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…