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Former Governor Dukakis testifies in trial tied to Boston bombing

Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis testified on behalf of a friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber charged with lying to investigators.

robel phillipos sketch boston marathon bombing cambridge A court artist's sketch of Robel Phillipos during his initial appearance in federal court on May 1.
Credit: Jane Flavell Collins

Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis testified on behalf of a friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber charged with lying to investigators on Thursday, saying he had known the defendant from a young age.

Dukakis, a Democrat who led the state from 1975 to 1979 and again from 1983 to 1991, said he called defendant Robel Phillipos several days after the bombing at the request of his mother, a family friend.

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"He told me he had been questioned for five hours by the FBI," Dukakis said. "He told me he was so confused he didn’t know what he had said."

Lawyers for Phillipos, 21, argue that their client was too intoxicated by marijuana to remember his actions on the night of April 18, 2013, when he is charged with accompanying two other men to the accused bomber's college dorm room, his lawyers assert.

They contend that his confession to the FBI days later of going to suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's room with two other friends who removed a backpack containing empty firework shells did not reflect his actual memories of that evening but rather what FBI agents told him happened.

Dukakis, who ran as the Democratic candidate for president in 1988, losing out to George H.W. Bush, said he knew Phillipos because his wife and Phillipos' mother worked together as social workers.

"We certainly knew him as a little boy," Dukakis said. "We've certainly watched him grow up."

Earlier on Thursday, a college friend of Phillipos, Michael Creese, 22, testified that the two smoked marijuana together over the course of more than an hour on April 18, 2013, using a device called a "vaporizer."

"It's probably the most efficient way of smoking," Creese said.

After prosecutors rested their case in U.S. District Court in Boston on Wednesday, defense attorneys began by questioning a college friend and high school friend of Phillipos, a resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts, about his marijuana use.

Defense attorneys are also expected to call expert witnesses on how marijuana affects the brain.

Federal prosecutors contend that Phillipos and two other friends of Tsarnaev went to the accused bomber's dorm room three days after the attack that killed three people and injured more than 260, shortly after the FBI released photos of Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan, both suspects.

One of the friends, Kazakhstan national Azamat Tazhayakov, was convicted in July of obstruction of justice for taking the backpack. The other, Dias Kadyrbayev, also from Kazakhstan, pleaded guilty to obstruction in August.

Phillipos, who faces the less serious charge of lying to investigators, faces up to 16 years in prison if convicted.

Tsarnaev, 21, is awaiting trial on charges that carry the death penalty. His brother died after a shoot-out with police late on the night of April 18, 2013.

 
 
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