Accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's three friends — who were charged by federal authorities for allegedly lying and obstructing justice in the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombings — may speak in court this week.
A hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, when prosecutors and defense attorneys will argue various motions including efforts by the defense to suppress statements, moving the trial venue out of Massachusetts and other matters. Some of the motions may require testimony, which could put some of the defendants on the witness stand.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, both 20 and nationals of Kazakhstan, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice last year after they were indicted. Robel Phillipos, of Cambridge, pleaded not guilty to making false statements. Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev are being held without bail. Phillipos has been released on bail.
The three met Tsarnaev while attending UMass Dartmouth in 2011.
Messages sent to their lawyers were not returned by press time.
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Lawyers for the men argue that there is no way they can get a fair trial in Massachusetts and want the venue changed.
"Given the massive amount of publicity in this case, and the apparently voracious appetite of the public for news about this case, it is likely that most — if not all — of the protective jurors will be familiar with the case, and harbor prejudices which will prevent defendants from obtaining a fair trial," Tazhayakov's lawyer, Nicholas Wooldridge, wrote in a court document.
Prosecutors instead argue that a proper jury can be found within the court's jury pool of Eastern Massachusetts.
"The media coverage in this case has been mostly factual, as opposed to inflammatory or sensational, thus undermining any claim for a presumption of prejudice," prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
The friends allegedly went to Tsarnaev's dorm room days after the bombing and removing a laptop, a backpack containing fireworks and other items and throwing them away.
Their trial is scheduled for the end of June.
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.