Man accused of coverup in Boston bombing to seek court-funded lawyer

by Reuters
Thursday, 6 March 2014 14:39 GMT

BOSTON, March 6 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Thursday is scheduled to hear a request by a college friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber to have his legal expenses paid by a federal program.

The friend, Robel Phillipos, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, said in a court filing last month he was "no longer financially able to afford counsel."

U.S. law provides defense attorneys for people who are unable to cover their legal expenses in criminal trials.

Phillipos is one of three friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, an accused Boston Marathon bomber, who went to Tsarnaev's dormitory room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth three days after the 2013 bombing, prosecutors say.

The men removed items from the room, prosecutors say, including a laptop computer and empty fireworks shells, following the FBI's release of pictures of Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, identifying them as suspects in the blasts.

The Tsarnaev brothers are accused of killing three people and injuring 264 with a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs at the marathon's finish line, and of shooting dead a university police officer three days later during an attempt to escape the city.

Phillipos has been charged with lying to investigators and faces up to 16 years in prison if convicted.

The two other defendants in his case are Kazakh exchange students, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov. They face the more serious charge of obstruction of justice and could face 25 years in prison or deportation if convicted.

All three have pleaded not guilty.

U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock has set a June start for their trial in Boston federal court.

The trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, on terrorism charges that carry the threat of execution, has been set for November.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died when his brother ran him over with a vehicle following a gunfight with police several days after the bombing. (Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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