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Bomb Suspect's Friend Faces Bail Hearing Today

8:21 AM, May 6, 2013   |    comments
US Department of Justice handout of evidence recovered on April 26, 2013 from a landfill in New Bedford, allegedly showing contents of backpack belonging to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (AP)
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Doug Stanglin, USA Today

Lawyers for one of the three friends charged with hampering the investigation of the Boston bombing planned to argue at a detention hearing Monday that he had nothing to do with the attack and is no flight risk.

Robel Phillipos, 19, is accused of lying to authorities about visiting Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's University of Massachusetts Dartmouth dorm room only hours after the FBI released photos of the bombing suspect.

Two other friends, Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, who were also in the dorm that evening, are accused of obstruction of justice for allegedly removing some evidence linking Tsarnaev to the bombing.

Phillipos is accused of repeatedly denying he knew about the removal of a backpack from the room that night. According to an affidavit, he admitted the fourth time he was questioned that he had not been telling the truth, WHDH-TV reported.

The detention hearing will determine whether he can be freed from jail pending his trial.

His lawyers, in court documents, argue that their client was a "frightened and confused 19 year old" who had been subjected to "intense questioning" without benefit of a lawyer.

They say he visited the room by "sheer coincidence and bad luck" and had little information to contribute to the investigation of Tsarnaev.

Phillipos, the son of a single mother who emigrated to the United States from Ethiopia, faces up to 8 years in prison if convicted.

Tsarnaev is charged in connection with deadly bombing April 15 that left 3 people dead and more than 260 wounded. His 26-year-old brother, one of the two suspects accused of setting off the devices near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, died during a shootout with police on April 18.

Dzhokhar, 19, was badly wounded in the operation and was later found hiding in a boat in the backyard of a house in Watertown, Mass. He is being held in a prison medical center.

Contributing: Associated Press

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