Prosecutors: Tazhayakov hid evidence to protect Tsarnaev - Metro US

Prosecutors: Tazhayakov hid evidence to protect Tsarnaev

Azamat Tazhayakov Azamat Tazhayakov in federal court on July 7, 2014. Sketch by Jane Collins.

“Don’t go thinking it’s me, you cooked bastard,” is what the accused Boston bomber texted to his college friend Azamat Tazhayakov an hour and a half after two bombs tore through the Boylston Street finish line on April 15, 2013.

Prosecutors made that claim Monday during opening arguments for the trial of 20-year-old Tazhayakov, who is accused along with his roommate Dias Kadyrbayev of removing a backpack, fireworks, a laptop and other evidence from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s UMass Dartmouth dorm room three days after the attack.

“When they removed all these things, the defendant thought that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was one of the Boston Marathon bombers,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Siegmann.

Tazhayakov has pleaded not guilty to charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy. He faces 25 years in prison if convicted.

Siegmann also said Tsarnaev bragged to Tazhayakov a month before the attack that he knew how to build a bomb using gunpowder and praised martyrdom because martyrs “die with a smile on [their] face and go straight to heaven.”

Defense attorney Nicholas Wooldridge urged the jury not to be swayed by the sensationalism surrounding Tsarnaev’s terror case.

“What is this case about? Well I’ll tell you what it’s not about: The bombing,” Wooldridge told the jury. “Don’t get shocked and awed. Stay clear and stay focused… I hope you give this kid [Tazhayakov] a shot.”

UMass Dartmouth senior Tiffany Evora was one of four witnesses to be called to the stand on Monday.

Evora said she befriended both Tazhayakov and Tsarnaev in the fall of 2012, and regularly smoked marijuana, played video games and drank with the pair.

Evora said she occasionally exchanged text messages with Tsarnaev, who she claimed sold marijuana on campus. Tazhayakov had a softer reputation, according to Evora, who said friends referred to him by two nicknames: “The Good Kid,” and “Mama’s Boy.”

Tazhayakov’s trial will continue Tuesday, and is expected to run about three weeks.

Kadyrbayev is scheduled to be tried in September, and Tsarnaev in November.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
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