Accessibility links

Breaking News

Lawyer Says Student Friend of Tsarnaev Didn't Lie

FILE - Robel Phillipos, a college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, arrives at federal court before a hearing in Boston.

A young man who U.S. federal prosecutors say initially lied about removing evidence from the dorm room of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev cannot remember the alleged event because his memory was hampered by marijuana, according to his lawyer.

On the first day of trial Monday in Boston, 21-year-old Robel Phillipos' attorney said he was “a kid high out of his mind” when any dorm room visit took place, three days after the April 2013 attack.

According to prosecutors, Phillipos eventually signed a confession that he and two others went to Tsarnaev’s dorm room and removed evidence, including a backpack with fireworks tubes that was later discarded.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Capin said Phillipos “could not have been much more accurate if he had used a ruler” when describing the fireworks in his statement. But Phillipos’ attorney said the confession was coerced.

Phillipos is one of four men charged in connection with alleged actions in the aftermath of last year’s Boston Marathon bombing. The attack killed three people and wounded more than 200. If convicted, he could face close to a decade in federal prison.

The two others said to have gone with Phillipos on the dorm room excursion are awaiting sentencing. A jury convicted Azamat Tazhayakov in July, and Dias Kadyrbayev pleaded guilty a month later.

Tsarnaev is set to go to trial in January on charges he carried out the bombings with his older brother who died days later in a shootout with police. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Prosecutors also have charged a taxi driver with misleading investigators and seeking to destroy evidence about how well he knew the Tsarnaevs. He pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial next year.