Not guilty pleas for Tsarnaev friends accused of obstruction
The duo accused of throwing out evidence related to the Boston Marathon bombing investigation pleaded not guilty to federal obstruction of justice charges on Tuesday.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, both 19 and nationals of Kazakhstan, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice. They were indicted by a federal grand jury last week.
Dressed in orange prison jumpsuits, the teens only said “not guilty” during their brief arraignment. They were being held in jail since they were charged in a criminal complaint in May.
Tazhayakov’s father, mother and siblings were in court and seated in the first row. Tazhayakov turned a couple of times to see his family, smiled broadly and waved. Kadyrbayev’s father was also in court and his son also turned to him to smile.
Both families declared their sons innocent.
“He feels very bad for everyone who suffered,” Murat Kadyrbayev, the father of Dias Kadyrbayev, said through an interpreter. “He prays for their souls.”
Kadyrbayev’s lawyer said the teen did not know accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was being sought by authorities.
“He had no intent to help Dzhokhar. He did not know that Dzhokhar was involved and he did not obstruct justice,” said attorney Robert Stahl said.
Amir Ismagulov, Tazhayakov’s father, said “absolutely not guilty” when asked about his son’s charges. He said it’s painful to know his son is in jail.
The teens met Tsarnaev while attending UMass Dartmouth.
According to the indictment, Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev “entered Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dormitory room, removed several items from the room, including Tsarnaev’s laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks,” and discarded them.
Prosecutors said they expected to call between 15 and 20 witnesses during the trial and expected it to last about two weeks. The teens face up to 25 years in jail and $500,000 in fines.
A status hearing was set for September.
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.