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Boston Marathon Bombings Update: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's friends hid damning evidence, feds say

This undated photo found on the VK page of Dias Kadyrbayev shows Kadyrbayev, left, with Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, at an unknown location. Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, two college buddies of Tsarnaev from Kazakhstan, were jailed by immigration authorities the day after his Tsarnaev's capture. They are not suspects, but are being held for violating their student visas by not regularly attending classes, Kadyrbayevâ AP Photo/VK

This undated photo found on the VK page of Dias Kadyrbayev shows Kadyrbayev, left, with Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, at an unknown location.
VK

(CBS/AP) BOSTON - Three college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were arrested Wednesday, and accused of removing a backpack from Tsarnaev's dorm three days after the attack to try to keep him from getting in trouble.

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Authorities said the backpack contained fireworks that had been emptied of gunpowder.

In court papers, the FBI said one of the friends threw the backpack in the garbage - and it was later found in a landfill by law enforcement officers - after they concluded from news reports that Tsarnaev was one of the bombers.

Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by concealing and destroying evidence. A third man, Robel Phillipos, was charged with lying to investigators about the visit to Tsarnaev's room.

In a court appearance Wednesday afternoon, Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev waived bail and agreed to voluntary detention. Their next hearing is scheduled for May 14.

CBS Boston reports that federal Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler admonished Phillipos in court, telling him to pay attention and not look down during the proceeding.

After the hearing, attorneys for the three spoke to the press briefly.

Harlan Protass, Tazhayakov's attorney, said his client "feels horrible and was shocked to hear that someone he knew at UMass-Darmouth was involved with the Boston Marathon bombing."

"[Tazhayakov] has cooperated fully with authorities and looks foward to the truth coming out in the case," Protass said.

Robert Stahl, Kadyrbayev's attorney, insisted his client had nothing to do with the bombing and has been cooperating with investigators.

"Mr. Kadyrbayev did not know that those items [reportedly taken from Dzhokhar's dorm room] were of any evidential value," Stahl said.

Three people were killed and more than 260 injured on April 15 when two bombs exploded near the Boston Marathon finish line. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, suspected in the attacks, died after a gunfight with police days later. His younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, was captured and is in a prison hospital.

Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev, who are from Kazakhstan, have been held in jail for more than a week on allegations that they violated their student visas by not regularly going to class at UMass Dartmouth. All three men charged Wednesday began attending UMass with Tsarnaev at the same time in 2011, according to the FBI.

The three were not accused of any involvement in the bombing itself. But in a footnote in the court papers, the FBI said that about a month before the bombing, Tsarnaev told Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev that he knew how to make a bomb.

Investigators have not said whether the pressure cooker bombs used in the attacks were made with gunpowder extracted from fireworks.

If convicted, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov could get up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Phillipos faces a maximum of eight years behind bars and a $250,000 fine.

Authorities allege that on the night of April 18, after the FBI released surveillance-camera photos of the bombing suspects and the three men suspected their friend was one of them, they went to Tsarnaev's dorm room.

Before Tsarnaev's roommate let them in, Kadyrbayev showed Tazhayakov a text message from Tsarnaev that read: "I'm about to leave if you need something in my room take it," according to the FBI.

When Tazhayakov learned of the message, "he believed he would never see Tsarnaev alive again," the FBI said in the affidavit.

It was not clear from the court papers whether authorities believe that was an instruction from Tsarnaev to his friends to destroy evidence.

Once inside Tsarnaev's room, the men noticed a backpack containing fireworks, which had been opened and emptied of powder, the FBI said.

The FBI said that Kadyrbayev knew when he saw the empty fireworks that Tsarnaev was involved in the bombings and decided to remove the backpack from the room "in order to help his friend Tsarnaev avoid trouble."

Kadyrbayev also decided to remove Tsarnaev's laptop "because he did not want Tsarnaev's roommate to think he was stealing or behaving suspiciously by just taking the backpack," the FBI said in court papers.

After the three men returned to Kadyrbayev's and Tazhayakov's apartment with the backpack and computer, they watched news reports featuring photographs of Tsarnaev.

The FBI affidavit said Kadyrbayev told authorities the three men then "collectively decided to throw the backpack and fireworks into the trash because they did not want Tsarnaev to get into trouble."

Kadyrbayev said he placed the backpack and fireworks along with trash from the apartment into a large trash bag and threw it into a garbage bin near the men's apartment.

When the backpack was later found in a landfill last week, inside it was a UMass-Dartmouth homework assignment sheet from a class Tsarnaev was taking, the FBI said.

Complete coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings on Crimesider

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