The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

May 6, 2013

Boston bomb suspect’s pal released pending trial

(Continued)

BOSTON —

Assistant U.S .Attorney John Capin said documents filed over the weekend by Phillipos’ defense, including many affidavits showing support from family and friends, might be viewed as indirectly questioning the government’s case against Phillipos.

“The government stands by its allegations,” Capin said.

Defense attorney Susan Church described Phillipos as a well-liked, honor roll student with many friends and supporters. At least 50 relatives, friends and other supporters attended the court hearing.

Church emphasized that Phillipos is not accused of helping Tsarnaev and his brother plan or carry out the bombings.

“At no time did Robel have any prior knowledge of this marathon bombing,” she said.

Two other friends were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by taking a backpack with fireworks and a laptop from Tsarnaev’s dorm room. All four had studied at UMass Dartmouth.

In letters filed in court, friends and family members urged the court to release Phillipos on bail, describing him as peaceful and non-violent.

“I was shocked and stunned when I heard the news of his arrest. I could not control my tears,” wrote Zewditu Alemu, his aunt. “I do not believe that my beloved Robel crosses the line intentionally to support or assist such a horrendous act against us the people of the USA. By nature he does not like violence. He loves peaceful environment.”

The Tsarnaev brothers are accused of carrying out the bombings using pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails, ball bearings and metal shards. The attack killed three people and injured more than 260 others near the marathon’s finish line.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured and remains in a prison hospital. He has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction and faces a potential death sentence if convicted.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, of Montgomery Village, Md., and three of his friends met with Stefan on Sunday to wash and shroud Tsarnaev’s body according to Muslim tradition.

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