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
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

MUSIC The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees…

Going Out

5 things to do this weekend in NYC

The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees expected. David Guetta,…

Television

'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.

Movies

Review: 'The Congress' is a crazy, unwieldy sci-fi…

Robin Wright is the center of gravity in "The Congress," which turns from a live-action Hollywood satire into an animated spectacular on a downer future.

NFL

Mario Manningham on the bubble as Giants play…

Former Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham hopes his second go-around with Big Blue doesn’t end with Saturday’s final cut day.

NFL

Source: Stephen Hill 'faces a battle' to make…

A team source says Stephen Hill, who has battled injuries and poor performances during his first two years, is no lock to make the Jets’ final roster.

Sports

Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…

Sex

The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.

Education

Does the school day start too early?

As thousands of high schoolers get ready to head back to class, health experts say it may be time to push back the start of…