Venue change denied for marathon suspect’s friend
BOSTON (AP) — A judge on Tuesday denied a motion to move next week’s trial for a college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Robel Phillipos, 21, of Cambridge, is charged with lying to authorities investigating the bombing. Prosecutors say he was in Tsarnaev’s dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth several days after the attack, when two other friends decided to remove Tsarnaev’s backpack, laptop computer and other evidence. Phillipos is accused of lying about being present when the items were removed.
Lawyers for Phillipos had again asked to move the trial from Boston to Springfield, Providence, Rhode Island, or Portland, Maine. The defense says Phillipos can’t get a fair trial in Boston because of prejudicial pretrial publicity. They say he is described in media reports as a friend and “assumed ally” of Tsarnaev.
Phillipos and Tsarnaev were classmates at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School before becoming students at UMass-Dartmouth.
Judge Douglas Woodlock considered the request and other topics during a final pre-trial hearing Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m satisfied that we’ll be able to get a fair and impartial jury in this case,” Woodlock said. Jury selection is to begin on Monday.
Two other Tsarnaev friends were convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges.
Twin bombs placed near the finish line of the 2013 marathon killed three people and injured more than 260. Tsarnaev is scheduled to go on trial in November and could face the death penalty if convicted. He also has asked to move his trial, preferably to Washington, D.C.