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Friend of Boston Marathon Bomber Sentenced to Six Years

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stands as a jury sentenced him to death on some counts related to the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. (Sketch by Art Lien)

A friend of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to 72 months in prison for obstructing justice, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Dias Kadyrbayev, now 21, pleaded guilty last year to charges in connection with removing a backpack and computer from Tsarnaev’s dorm room after the deadly 2013 bombings.

As part of that plea agreement, prosecutors had recommended a sentence of seven years — a year more than what he received — for Kadyrbayev, a Kazakh national. The plea deal also requires him to be deported after serving his sentence.

“We are gratified that the court listened to our sentencing arguments and sentenced Dias based upon the law and the totality of the circumstances surrounding his conduct,” his attorney, Robert G. Stahl, said in a statement.

“From the beginning, the government had pressed a sentencing enhancement under the guidelines related to terrorism, despite knowing that Dias is not a terrorist. Dias had no knowledge of the Tsarnaevs’ plans or actions. After a long, hard-fought litigation that included motions to dismiss and a suppression hearing, the government finally recognized Dias’ limited involvement and agreed to today’s result,” Stahl said.

But federal prosecutors noted that at the time of his arrest, Kadyrbayev was in the United States on a revoked student visa while attending the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

“The concealment and destruction of evidence can have profound effects on the course of an investigation,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz of Massachusetts. “Mr. Kadyrbayev knowingly concealed and disposed of critical evidence relating to the Boston Marathon bombing. He now faces the consequences of those actions — six years in federal prison, with deportation to follow.”

The charges against Kadyrbayev stem from actions after bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Three people were killed and more than 200 were injured.

“While we are, of course, disappointed that the court sentenced Dias to six years, rather than the 26 months already served, he fully accepts responsibility and the sentence imposed,” Stahl added.

Kadyrbayev was accused of throwing Tsarnaev’s backpack into a trash bin after discovering it contained fireworks with gunpowder and removing a jar of Vaseline and a computer thumb drive. Investigators later recovered the backpack at a landfill.

Kadyrbayev also was accused of taking Tsarnaev’s computer to his off-campus apartment, where the FBI later seized it.

“He had a terrible, momentary lapse in judgment for which he has paid a severe price. His loving family and friends hope to have him back home as soon as possible,” Kadyrbayev’s attorney said. “Dias and his family are grateful to bring this matter to a close so that the victims, their families and the community can continue to heal from the tragic events at the hands of the Tsarnaev brothers.”

Last month, Tsarnaev was sentenced to death for his role in the Boston Marathon attacks. A jury convicted Tsarnaev on all 30 charges he faced.

Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, 26, was killed following a gunfight with Watertown, Massachusetts, police after the younger brother tried to free him with a stolen SUV but ran him down instead, authorities said.

Deadly Force ‘Justified’ in 2013

The use of deadly force by Watertown officers was justified, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan announced Tuesday.

It is also “likely” that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev sustained some of his injuries in the shootout on Laurel and Dexter streets and the subsequent escape, Ryan said.

Nearly killed in that shootout was Massachusetts Transit Police Officer Richard Donohue, but authorities don’t know from whose gun came the bullet that wounded Donohue, the district attorney said.

The bullet that wounded Donohue wasn’t removed from his body because such a procedure could be life threatening, Ryan said.

“We don’t know what struck officer Donahue. … It is likely that it came from one of the guns of the officers that was trying to stop Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,” Ryan said.

Ryan’s office issued a statement that said “it is highly likely that the injury sustained by Officer Donohue was due to friendly fire of officers shooting at the fleeing Mercedes being operated by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.”

The whole Watertown shooting incident lasted six minutes and 43 seconds from time of shots fired call, to time of call for ambulance for Tamerlan, Ryan said.