Motion: Release man accused of lying after blasts

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — Prosecutors and defense lawyers filed a joint court motion Monday asking a judge to release one of the friends of Boston Marathon suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from federal custody while awaiting trial.

Robel Phillipos, 19, was charged last week with lying to investigators looking into the April 15 bombings. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth student faces a maximum of eight years in prison if convicted.

Both sides said in the court motion that they agree to allow Phillipos to be released under strict conditions, including home confinement and monitoring with an electronic bracelet, along with a $100,000 bond.

A magistrate judge is expected to consider the request during a hearing Monday afternoon.

Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, was killed after a gunbattle with police four days after the bombings.

A funeral director trying to find a cemetery to take Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body pledged to ask the city of Cambridge to allow him to be buried in a city-owned cemetery because the brothers lived in Cambridge for the last decade.

But Cambridge City Manager Robert Healy said he is urging Tsarnaev’s family not to make the request.

“The difficult and stressful efforts of the citizens of the City of Cambridge to return to a peaceful life would be adversely impacted by the turmoil, protests, and wide spread media presence at such an interment,” Healy said in a statement Sunday.

Worcester funeral director Peter Stefan said hasn’t been able to find a cemetery in Massachusetts willing to accept Tsarnaev’s remains. He said if Cambridge turns him down, he will seek help from state officials. Stefan said Monday that he is looking outside of Massachusetts and does not think Russia will take the body.

Phillipos is accused of lying to investigators about visiting Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s college dorm room on April 18, three days after the bombings. 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.

Defense attorneys for Phillipos said in court documents their client had nothing to do with the deadly bombings and isn’t a flight risk.

In letters filed with the motion, 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.”

Phillipos’ resume, filed in court, shows he was majoring in marketing with a minor in sociology at UMass Dartmouth and expected to graduate in 2015.

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.

Tsarni told reporters that he is arranging for Tsarnaev’s burial because religion and tradition call for his nephew to be buried. He would like him buried in Massachusetts because he’s lived in the state for the last decade, he said.

“I’m dealing with logistics. A dead person must be buried,” he said.

He said he was grateful to Stefan for agreeing to arrange the burial and to his friends for accompanying him to Massachusetts to aid with the funeral.

“These are my friends who feel for me … as I do understand no one wants to associate their names with such evil events,” he said.

Tsarnaev, who had appeared in surveillance photos wearing a black cap, was identified by authorities as Suspect No. 1.

The state medical examiner ruled that Tsarnaev died from gunshot wounds and blunt trauma to his head and torso, and authorities have said his brother ran him over in a chaotic getaway attempt.

Tsarni has denounced the acts his nephews are accused of committing and has said they brought shame to the family and the entire Chechen ethnicity. The brothers are ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago with their parents. Both parents returned to Dagestan last year.

Tsarni said Sunday that he hopes to eventually see Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at his prison hospital.

“This is another person left all to himself,” he said.

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Associated Press writer Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.

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