The lawyers defending Azamat Tazhayakov, who is charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy in the investigation of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, began selecting a jury for Tazhayakov’s trial alongside federal prosecutors Monday.
Tazhayakov, who is the first of Tsarnaev’s four friends to be put on trial for obstruction charges, allegedly removed Tsarnaev’s backpack from his University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth dorm room following the 2013 Boston Marathon where two bombs went off at the finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 260.
Authorities say brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev placed two pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of marathon on April 15, 2013. Tamerlan was killed while fleeing from authorities four days later. Dzhokhar has plead not guilty to 30 federal charges against him, including use of a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, destruction of public property, carrying a firearm and carjacking.
Tsarnaev, whose trial is scheduled to begin in November, is also accused of participating in a police shootout days after the 2013 bombings that resulted in the death of Massachusetts Institute of Technology Police Department Officer Sean Collier.
Prosecutors have accused Tazhayakov and another friend, Dias Kadyrbayev, of hiding Tsarnaev’s backpack containing fireworks after Tsarnaev was identified as a suspect on the news. The backpack was later found in a landfill.
Tazhayakov’s lawyer, Matthew Myers, told reporters on June 23 his client turned down a plea bargain from prosecutors that would have guaranteed reduced charges. Myers said Tazhayakov is confident he will be acquitted of his charges in court.
Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev could face up to 25 years in prison if they are convicted of the obstruction of justice charges against them. Tazhayakov’s trial is expected to begin on July 7.