(BOSTON) — A friend of one of the accused Boston Marathon bombers was released from jail on bond following a court appearance Monday.
Robel Phillipos, a 19-year-old American friend of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was arrested last week for allegedly lying to investigators in the days after the bombing.
Phillipos declined to answer questions when he left the courthouse in a black baseball cap and white button-down shirt. He was released on $100,000 bail and will be put under “strict house arrest,” the court said. He also has relinquished his passport and will undergo random drug screening. When Phillipos’ mother was asked in court if she understood she was accepting responsibility for her son, she stood and said she did.
Prosecutors said Phillipos and two other friends of Tsarnaev, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, went to Tsarnaev’s dorm room three days after the bombing. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov allegedly removed Tsarnaev’s laptop computer and a backpack full of fireworks missing the powder.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov have been charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice for allegedly taking the items from the room and attempting to get rid of the backpack. An attorney for Kadyrbayev told ABC News last week his client turned over the laptop the first time investigators visited him. The attorney also disputed the prosecution’s assertion the teens knew their friend was involved in the bombing when they took the backpack and laptop.
Charging documents allege Phillipos repeatedly changed his story about that night, first claiming he didn’t remember going to Tsarnaev’s room at all, before he “eventually confessed that he had lied to the [federal] agents during his previous interviews.”
An attorney for Phillipos emphasized Monday in his motion to grant his client’s release that Phillipos is not charged in connection with the actual bombing or with the actions of Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov. The motion said that Phillipos had not had any contact with Tsarnaev for two months and only happened to be on the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth campus that day “by sheer coincidence and bad luck” to attend a seminar.
The attorney said in court documents that the weight of the federal government “can have a devastatingly crushing effect on the ability of an adolescent to withstand the enormous pressure and respond rationally” to investigators’ questions, and said the government’s charge against his client is “refutable.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, are accused of detonating two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, killing three and injuring over 260 others. Tamerlan was killed days later in a firefight with authorities, while Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was injured and later captured.
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