The UMass-Dartmouth classmate of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pled guilty on August 21, 2014 to conspiracy and obstruction of justice, the sentence for which is 25 years. In a proposed plea bargain, which the judge has not yet ruled on, Dias will serve not more than 7 years for disposing of some fireworks that had no connection to the bombing. US Attorney Stephanie Siegmann is asking for all seven years. Dias, a foreign student from Khazakstan, agreed to be deported after time served. Dias decided to admit to hiding both Jaharâ€™s laptop and backpack.
â€œYou understand that youâ€™re pleading guilty to two charges… those are serious federal charges,â€ Judge Woodlock said, adding that Dias is giving up any and all rights to a full trial.
Dias said, â€œYes sirâ€ to the judge that heâ€™s giving up his right to challenge the evidence against him.
On July 21, 2014, Diasâ€™ former roommate and former cellmate, Azamat Tazhayakov, who pled â€œNot Guiltyâ€ to both counts, was found not guilty by the jury regarding bringing home Jaharâ€™s laptop. He was however found guilty of conspiring to throw away the backpack containing fireworks, despite witness claims that Dias was the one who tossed it. Therefore Dias, who had been pleading innocent based on the argument that he didnâ€™t understand his Miranda rights, realized he was unlikely to get a more favorable outcome to his trial. Dias and Azamat are both being held in solitary confinement. Azamat, who also faces 25 years, is awaiting sentencing on October 16.
â€œSo, today he formally accepted full responsibility for his actions and sincerely apologizes,â€ said defense Attorney Stahl in a press conference after the hearing. â€œDias now understands he never should have gone to the dorm room… never should have taken any items from that room.â€ Dias is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 18. David Frank reported in Mass Lawyers Weekly, â€œAlthough Stahl declined to comment on the particulars of the deal until after the hearing, it is likely that the parties have signed some type of written agreement laying out the terms of the plea. The agreement will then be submitted to Woodlock for his approval.â€
â€œIt looks like no guarantees and everything is up in the air!â€ observed Asel, a Canadian supporter from Kyrgyzstan.
Diasâ€™ father, Murat Kadyrbayav as well as Azamatâ€™s younger brother Ablaikhan Ismagulov are in town to attend the ongoing court proceedings. They do not speak English, so they are navigating Boston using an electronic translation device.
Meanwhile the legal proceedings for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are going forward towards his November trial date. On August 18, 2014 Judge George Oâ€™Toole ruled at least partially in favor of the defense, ordering that:
â€œThe government made disclosure of affirmative expert discovery summaries pertaining to ballistics, fingerprint, blood, and DNA evidence on June 30, 2014. The defendant complains that the disclosure does not adequately identify what expert testimony the government â€œintends to use . . . during its case-in-chief at trial,â€ as required by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16(a)(1)(G). After review of the index and summaries produced by the government, I agree and the motion (dkt. no. 440) is GRANTED to the extent that the government must identify the expert witnesses it presently intends to call during its case-in-chief at trial and provide summaries of their testimonies. Such summaries must meet the requirements set forth in Rule 16(a)(1)(G). To the extent the motion seeks further relief beyond this, the motion is DENIED.â€
Until this point, the US had argued that explaining their case to the defense would deny them the right to surprise. They handed over millions of documents but did not clearly state how they came to the conclusion that Tsarnaev committed the bombing based on this evidence. So far the public is relying on the say-so of the FBI regarding guilt.
The defense continues to press the court to shift the trial to DC instead of Boston.
In another development, Katherine Russell, widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and their daughter have been spotted by local media living with Dzhokhar Tsarnaevâ€™s sisters, Aliana and Bella in North Bergen, NJ. All three women are observing hijab. Katherine reportedly stated that she wants her daughter to grow up in a Muslim home. Katherine probably decided to move out of her parentsâ€™ home in Rhode Island due to the constant hounding by paparazzi. The three ladies seem to be living a quiet life, WCVB reports.
Katherineâ€™s legal team says they donâ€™t know if she is currently under investigation. The US attorneyâ€™s office wonâ€™t comment on that. One of her attorneys, Amato DeLuca says her parents and sisters testified before a grand jury investigating the bombings last year, but Katherine was not called. The fact that she was not called to testify could mean that she is still being considered as a possible target of prosecution for not going to the police when her husbandâ€™s face came on TV.
Katherine gave no comment to reporters who asked if she tipped off Tamerlan or had contact with him once the FBI pictures were made public. Her lawyer says when Russell saw the suspectsâ€™ pictures released by the FBI, she didnâ€™t know who they were initially.
Ailina faces a trial in Boston next month on charges of misleading police in counterfeit money investigation in 2010. Bella was charged in New Jersey with marijuana possession and intent to distribute marijuana. Prosecutors say the charges will be dismissed if she completes a first time offender program.