Crime and Prisoner Law News
Really Azamat, an alleged friend of alleged Boston Marathon Bomber Two ("Joker") has been found guilty of obstructing justice and conspiracy because a few days after the bombing he "agreed with the plan" of a friend ("Dias") to remove from Joker's dorm room a backpack containing altered fireworks, a computer, and a jar of Vaseline, even though he was not alleged otherwise to have participated in their removal, and merely watched a movie with another friend ("Robel") while Dias did it.
FBI agents testified that Azamat told them he and Dias decided to take the backpack, fireworks and Joker's laptop computer hours after Dias received a text message from Joker that said Dias could go to his dorm room and "take what's there." The items were removed hours after the FBI released photos and video of Joker and his brother, identifying them as bombing suspects.
The backpack and fireworks were later recovered in a New Bedford landfill. Prosecutors said the fireworks had been emptied of their explosive powder.
According to the superseding indictment:
"5. At approximately 5:00 p.m. on April 18, 2013, the FBI published video and photographic images of Bomber One and Bomber Two on its website. Those images were widely rebroadcast by media
outlets allover the country and the world. The FBI asked for the public's help in identifying the two men pictured in the video and photographs. On Friday, April 19, 2013, the men pictured in these
video images and photographs were identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ("Joker")."
"7â€¦.Until April 20, 2013, Dias and Asamat shared an apartment at 69A Carriage Drive, New Bedford, Massachusetts ("the Carriage Drive apartment")."
"10. During the fall 2012 and spring 2013 semesters, Joker and a roommate were assigned campus housing at Room 7341, Pine Dale Hall, on the UMASS-Dartmouth campus ("Dzhokhar Tsarnaev' s
dormitory room"). Joker was living in his Pine Dale Hall dormitory room during April 2013, the time period of the Marathon bombing."
"11. On April 21, 2013, the FBI searched Joker's dormitory room pursuant to a search warrant. Three days before the FBI executed its search, on the evening of April 18, 2013, after the
FBI posted the photographs of Bomber One and Bomber Two, Dias, Asamat and Robel entered Tsarnaev' s dormitory room, removed several items from the room, including Joker's laptop computer
and a backpack containing fireworks, and brought them to the Carriage Drive apartment."
"12. Subsequently, between approximately 10:00 p.m. on April 18, 2013 and 1:22 p.m. on April 19, 2013, Dias placed Joker's backpack, which contained several items including fireworks and a jar of Vaseline, in a garbage bag and placed it in a dumpster outside the Carriage Drive apartment."
"13. On April 19, 2013, the Carriage Drive apartment complex's dumpster was emptied and its contents were moved to a landfill in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Over the course of two days, April 25, 2013 and April 26, 2013, more than 30 federal agents searched this landfill for the evidence Dias had placed in the trash. On April 26, 2013, Joker's backpack was found at the landfill. Inside the backpack, the agents recovered fireworks, a jar of Vaseline, a thumb drive, and a UMASS-Dartmouth homework assignment sheet."
14. Between on on or about April 19, 2013, and April 25, 2013, federal agentsâ€¦ interviewed Robel concerning material facts related to the terrorism investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing andâ€¦Joker. During these interviews, Robel concealed the fact that he, Dias, and Azamat had
gone into Joker' s dormitory room on the evening of April 18, 2013, and removed Joker's backpack from his room.' In so doing, he made numerous false and misleading statements to the agents."
Based on this, Dias and Asamat were charged in Count One with violating 18 USC 371 by conspiring to conceal Joker's backpack and contents so to obstruct justice and thereby violated 18 USC 1519.
Among the incriminating overt acts alleged was:
"e. While inside Joker's dormitory room on the evening of April 18, 2013,Dias showed Azamat a jar of Vaseline he had found among Joker's belongings and Dias told Asamat that he believed Joker had used the Vaseline "to make bombs" or words to that effect."
Although included among the incriminating overt acts alleged, the following tends to discredit the generalized timeframe the indictment otherwise posits as to when Joker was identified to Dias and Azamat as Bomber Two:
"i. On the evening of April 18, 2013 and the morning of April 19, 2013, Dias and Asamat watched television news reports about the persons suspected of committing the Marathon bombings. These reports showed pictures of a suspected bomber who was later publicly identified (by approximately 6:50 a.m. on April 19, 2013) as Joker. On the morning of April 19, 2013, multiple news reports identified Joker as one of the two Marathon bombers."
However, allegedly the garbage truck pick up of their garbage allegedly occurred thereafter as they watched.
Count Two alleges the actual obstruction by Dias and Azamat in violation of 18 USC 1519 and that old standby 18 USC 2.
Counts Three and Four allege that Robel violated 18 USC 1001(a)(2) by lieing to federal agents about the entry and exit of Joker's dorm room and what was removed; oddly the sole charge against him given his general apparent involvement along with Dias and Azamat, but suggesting that he is the snitch upon whom the prosecutors may be relying for their cases against Dias and Azamat. This may also explain why he is scheduled to be tried last among them.Insofar as remotely relevant, 18 USC 1519 provides: "Whoever knowinglyâ€¦conceals, covers up, aâ€¦ tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States â€¦or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both." Obvious problem is that putting things in the garbage may not qualify. Contemplate California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35 (1988), which held that once abandoned, officers can search and seize any evidence found in your garbage. Dias put Joker's backpack and its contents into the dumpster in the alley where the trash collectors came to pick it up. How is such an abandonment to a space that is not constitutionally protected from police or public view a concealment or cover up? Unlike most other contexts in which it is asserted, charging 18 USC 2 here for obstructing justice does make sense as a crime against the US. However, the timeline itself tends to discredit such a conclusion. The garbage trail was followed immediately so that there was little if any obstruction; albeit, admittedly, not so minimal as to be non-existant as with Christ's obstruction chronicled in my Marking Time ( US versus Christ, pp. 580-624).