Two friends of the Boston Marathon bomber have been sentenced to prison for removing incriminating evidence from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room in the wake of the deadly attack on April 15, 2013.
Azamat Tazhayakov (pictured, left) tearfully apologized to the residents of Boston before he was sentenced Friday to three and a half years for conspiracy and obstructing an FBI investigation into the city's marathon bombing.
"I know I can't change what happened, but I've regretted my decision," the 21-year-old Kazakh exchange student said. "It makes me sick what Dzhokhar did. I don't support extremism."
Tazhayakov and two other friends cleared evidence from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth while a massive manhunt for the bomber was underway. They took a laptop and a backpack containing fireworks allegedly used in bomb-making, in what prosecutors described as an attempt to protect Tsarnaev. Federal agents found the bag two days later in a landfill.
"I didn't go there to the dorm room because I made [the] connection that Dzhokhar was some jihadist. I never thought about it," Tazhayakov said during Friday's hearing.
"At that moment I saw that one of my friends was [an alleged bomber] and I didn't know if it was true or not."
Tazhayakov has already spent more than two years behind bars and faces deportation after serving out his sentence.
In a separate hearing on Friday, Robel Phillipos, another Massachusetts student, was sentenced to three years in prison for lying to the FBI about being in Tsarnaev's dorm room with Tazhayakov in the days after the bombings.
Judge Douglas Woodlock said Phillipos was to blame for a "substantial diversion" of law enforcement resources.
Earlier in the week, the third student who visited Tsarnaev's dorm, Dias Kadyrbayev (pictured, center), was sentenced to six years in prison for obstructing justice.
Prosecutors say there is no evidence Tsarnaev's friends had prior knowledge of the bomb plot.
Three people died and more than 260 were injured when explosives planted by 21-year-old Tsarnaev and his elder brother Tamerlan went off near the marathon's finish line in 2013. A jury last month sentenced Tsarnaev to death by lethal injection. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police days after the bombing.
nm/kms (Reuters, AFP, AP)