Closing arguments set in trial of Tsarnaev friend

Created: 10/21/2014 12:52 AM

BOSTON (AP) — Closing arguments were scheduled in the federal trial of a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Robel Phillipos is charged with lying to the FBI about being in Tsarnaev's dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth while two other friends removed a backpack containing fireworks and other potential evidence several days after the 2013 attack. Twin bombs placed near the marathon finish line killed three people and injured more than 260.

Lawyers for Phillipos, 21, have told jurors he was frightened and intimidated by the FBI when he was questioned, and too high on marijuana on April 18, 2013, to remember what he did that night. Several of Phillipos' friends testified about six times he smoked marijuana that day.

Phillipos' lawyers also called a surprise witness to testify for Phillipos: former Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. The three-term governor said he called Phillipos at the request of Phillipos' mother, an old family friend, five days after the marathon bombing.

Dukakis said Phillipos told him he had been questioned by the FBI for five hours. "He told me he was so confused he didn't know what he said," Dukakis testified.

Prosecutors presented testimony from FBI agents who said Phillipos told various lies until finally confessing to being in Tsarnaev's dorm room that night and seeing two friends take Tsarnaev's backpack. The two other men were convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

Phillipos attended high school in Cambridge with Tsarnaev and later attended UMass-Dartmouth with him.

Closing arguments in his trial were set for Tuesday morning.

(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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