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First of Three Tsarnaev Friends' Trial Started Today, Recap

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on July 07, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

By now, you know the drill when it comes to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving brother accused of orchestrating the Boston Marathon bombings. In the past year, the prosecution has been building its case alleging 30 charges against Tsarnaev, some of which may carry the death penalty.

Tsarnaev's trial is scheduled for November 3, 2014, but today, the first case against one of Tsarnaev's friends -- Azamat Tazhayakov began. Here's a brief review of today's court proceedings.

The Allegedly Criminal Conduct

Azamat Tazhayakov, along with roommate and fellow native of Kazakhstan Dias Kadyrbayev, are visiting students at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and both are charged with conspiracy, and obstruction of justice, in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings, and the removal of evidence against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. According to the prosecution, the pair went to Tsarnaev's dorm room -- just hour after images of the suspected bombers were released -- and removed items including a backpack that contained "opened fireworks, a laptop computer, a jar of Vaseline, a thumb drive, an ashtray, a bag of marijuana, and a pair of headphones," reports The Boston Globe.

Prosecutor's Opening Statements

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Siegmann presented the prosecution's opening arguments today, and painted Tazhayakov as Tsarnaev's friend noting that the two "played video games on their Xbox ... [and] smoked marijuana together," according to The New York Times. Since one of the critical issues for the prosecution is Tazhayakov's "awareness of Tsarnaev's culpability," says The Boston Globe, Siegmann went on to state, "When they removed all these things, the defendant thought that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was one of the Boston Marathon bombers ... The defendant and his roommate took all these steps, removing evidence, hiding evidence," quotes The New York Times.

Defense's Opening Statements

For the defense, Tazhayakov's father, an oil executive, has hired the best including Richard Gabriel, jury consultant who worked on cases involving O.J. Simpson and Phil Spector, reports Bloomberg. Nicholas Woodbridge, Tazhaykov's attorney, painted a picture of Tazhayakov as innocent. His version of events is that he went to Tsarnaev's room and only picked up a set of headphones -- that were his, which Tsarnaev had borrowed. He claims that he was watching a movie, while Dias Kadyrbayev disposed of the backpack. Woodbridge cautioned the jury, stating "What is this case about? Well I'll tell you what it's not about: The bombing ... Don't get shocked and awed. Stay clear and stay focused," quotes The Daily Mail.

Azamat Tazhayakov is the first of three of Tsarnaev's friends to be tried. The other two, Dias Kadyrbayev and Robel Phillipos, are awaiting trial in September, reports The New York Times.

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