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Tsarnaev Friend Robel Phillipos Found Guilty of Lying to Feds

By Mark Wilson, Esq. on October 28, 2014 5:29 PM

After 35 hours of deliberations, a jury has convicted a friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of two counts of lying to federal officers. According to prosecutors, Robel Phillipos lied about going to Tsarnaev's dorm room at the University of Massachusetts three days after the bombings, on April 18, 2013.

In reality, Phillipos and two other friends helped Tsarnaev dispose of a laptop and a backpack full of empty fireworks canisters after the bombing.

Defense: Too High to Knowingly Make False Statements

Phillipos' defense was that he had smoked marijuana for 12 hours before talking to FBI agents, and consequently couldn't remember what happened. He may have not told the truth, the defense argued, but he didn't do so knowingly.

Phillipos' roommate at the time testified and confirmed they did smoke quite a bit of marijuana that day, but the jury apparently didn't think it was enough to cause him to say he didn't go to Tsarnaev's dorm room when he clearly had.

The trial even featured former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Michael Dukakis testifying for the defense that Phillipos appeared confused in a phone conversation the two had after Phillipos had been questioned by the FBI for five hours. (How is Michael Dukakis involved in this case, you ask? Dukakis' wife and Phillipos' mother are apparently friends.)

Up to 8 Years in Prison

Phillipos is scheduled to be sentenced on January 29, 2015. While lying to federal agents is itself a crime, lying to them during a terrorism investigation enhances the penalty. This means that he could face up to eight years for each of the two counts of lying to federal agents.

The two other friends who were allegedly there that night to help dispose of the evidence, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, have already been convicted of obstruction of justice and are awaiting sentencing.

And Tsarnaev himself? His trial is set for January after a delay pushed it from its start date in November. Tsarnaev faces 30 federal charges for the April 15, 2013, bombing at the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured over 260 others. Tsarnaev's brother Tamerlan allegedly helped with the bombings, but died in a police shootout a few days later.

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