Tsarnaev friend trial: Deliberations continue for man accused of helping terror suspect

Azamat Tazhayakov is accused of agreeing with another friend to take a backpack containing opened fireworks and other items from Tsarnaev's dorm room. He is charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy.

By , Associated Press

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    Defendant Azamat Tazhayakov, a college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, sits during a hearing in federal court in Boston, in this courtroom sketch.
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A federal jury has started its second day of deliberations in the trial of a man accused of trying to protect Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Azamat Tazhayakov is accused of agreeing with another friend to take a backpack containing opened fireworks and other items from Tsarnaev's dorm room. He is charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy.

The jury resumed deliberations Thursday morning after getting the case Wednesday afternoon.

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In closing arguments, prosecutors said Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev removed the items hours after the FBI released images of Tsarnaev and his brother as suspects.

Tazhayakov's lawyer said Kadyrbayev is the one who took the items. He said Tazhayakov was prosecuted because he was a "friend of the bomber."

The 2013 attack killed three people and injured more than 260.

The jury began deliberating in the case Wednesday afternoon, after closing arguments in the first trial related to the 2013 bombings.

The Tsarnaevs, also Muslims, lived in Kyrgyzstan and Russia before moving to the United States. Prosecutors allege the Tsarnaevs carried out the attack in retaliation for U.S. actions in Muslim countries.

Hours after seeing images of the Tsarnaev brothers on television, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Capin said, Tazhayakov and two other friends, Dias Kadyrbayev and Robel Phillipos, went to Tsarnaev's dormitory room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth after Tsarnaev sent Kadyrbayev a text message telling them they could go to his room and "take what's there."

Capin said Tazhayakov became "scared" when he saw fireworks that had been emptied of gunpowder in Tsarnaev's backpack, because Tsarnaev had told him and other friends weeks before the marathon bombings that gunpowder is one of the ingredients needed to make a bomb. Capin said that when Kadyrbayev found a jar of Vaseline, he told Tazhayakov, "This is what he uses to make bombs." The Vaseline was later found in Tsarnaev's backpack when agents recovered it in a landfill.

"That agreement to take items out, to remove items because they suspected he was the bomber — that is a conspiracy to obstruct justice," Capin told the jury.

But Tazhayakov's lawyer, Matthew Myers, said Tazhayakov and Phillipos sat watching a movie in Tsarnaev's dorm room as Kadyrbayev took the backpack. Myers said Kadyrbayev decided to throw away the bag after his girlfriend ordered him to "get it out of the apartment."

Kadyrbayev will be tried separately in September. Phillipos, who is charged with lying to investigators, also faces a separate trial.

Tsarnaev is awaiting a November trial and faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.

Prosecutors allege Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, carried out the bombings and killed a police officer days later. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a shootout with police the night the officer was killed. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured hiding in a boat in a suburban backyard.

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