The first trial stemming from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing came to a halt Monday, and as expected, the wiggle room for innocence was found to be almost nonexistent.
Azamat Tazhayakov, the 20-year-old friend of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on federal charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy for his role in discarding materials used for the malicious crime.
The jury found that Tazhayakov conspired with friend Dias Kadyrbayev to take from Tsarnaev’s room a backpack containing fireworks that had been emptied of their explosive powder. Prosecutors said the explosive powder could have been used to make bombs.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers both told the jury it was Kadyrbayev who actually threw the items away, but prosecutors said Tazhayakov agreed with the plan and was an active participant.
Juror Daniel Antonino, 49, said the panel heavily debated the charges but in the end believed Tazhayakov had impeded the investigation.
“They took materials from that room that they never should have touched, and that’s what he is going to pay the price for,” Antonino said.
Tazhayakov faces a maximum 20-year prison sentence for obstruction and a five-year maximum for conspiracy at sentencing, which was scheduled for Oct. 16. The verdicts came less than three years after he arrived in the U.S. from his native Kazakhstan, hoping to get an engineering degree at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.
Prosecutors said Tazhayakov quickly became friends with Kadyrbayev, who was also from Kazakhstan, and the two also became friendly with Tsarnaev who, like them, spoke Russian. Tsarnaev, who lived in Kyrgyzstan and Russia, had come to the U.S. as a child with his family. He turns 21 on Tuesday.
Following this verdict, it doesn’t take a sidewalk psychic to predict how the rest of the trials are going to turn out.