Tsarnaev Friend Azamat Tazhayakov Sentenced to 42 Months

The federal judge presiding over the cases of three friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnav sentenced Azamat Tazhayakov to 42 months (3 1/2 years) in prison today. He has already served 26 months. With good time (54 days a month after the first year) he should be done in a year or less, at which time he will be deported to Kazakhstan.

The Government had asked for four years. His lawyers asked for time served (26 months.) His guidelines, due to the terror enhancement, were 360 to life. As with Dias, the judge disregarded the enhancement since their obstruction did not involve terrorist acts. [More...]

A jury found Azamat guilty of obstruction as to Tsarnaev's backpack, but not guilty as to his laptop. Dias pleaded guilty to obstruction as to both objects. The judge refused to impose a "trial tax" on Azamat. He said he believed he was remorseful.

Azamat's lawyer said "What Azamat did was a really impulsive, immature decision." He cited his age (19 at the time) and pointed out he cooperated and provided substantial assistance after he was convicted (he testified against Robel Phillipos and was willing to testify against Tsarnaev.)

Azamat's lawyer said Azamat, Philippos and Dias' girlfriend (who got immunity in exchange for her testimony against Azamat) were relatively equal in culpability.

Robel Philippos will be sentenced at 2:00 ET. Khairullozhon Mantanov, the 23 year old taxi driver who was a friend of Tamerlan's who was charged with lying to investigators about watching videos and hiding details of his contacts with the Tsarnaev brothers while cooperating with police, will be sentenced June 18.

The Government is asking for 5 years for Robel and 30 months for Matanov. At Azamat's sentencing today, the AUSA said he was not prepared to discuss the relative culpability of Matanov and the judge told him he better be by 2:00 (when he sentences Phillipos.)

Matanov's guidelines are 151-188 months with the terror enhancement and 21-27 months without it, according to a pleading filed by the Government (Document 61).

Azamat's parents and brother moved to Boston to be near him. They were at court today. Azamat's lawyer asked the judge to recommend to BOP that he and Dias be designated to the same prison, but the judge refused.

Although Robel went to trial and lost, he has a lot of community support (including Gov. Michael Dukakis who testified for him at trial). He was convicted of making 5 out of 9 false statements (not obstruction). The statutory maximum is 8 years for each false statement. The ordinary penalty is 5 years, but when the statement involves a terrorism investigation, it is 8 years.)

In short, the jury found Robel did not lie about what he saw or heard in the dorm room. He lied about not being in the dorm room at all, and learning afterwards that his friends had taken the backpack from the dorm room. He did not lie when he denied discussing get rid of the backpack with his friends. The jury rejected the FBI's "written confession" by Robel.

As I wrote here, Robel has lived in Cambridge his entire life. He is a U.S. citizen, raised by a single mother, a refugee from Ethopia who while raising him, obtained a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. She is the Director of numerous prominent domestic violence programs and emergency shelters and also assists refugees in the community.

Robel was an honor student in high school. He was still in college at the time of the bombing. The family has the strong support of their church, the Ethopian Orthodox Christian church. He had never been arrested before. In addition to his strong family and community ties, he was active in civic youth programs in the city.

I doubt the judge will sentence Robel to 5 years as the Government is requesting. Also, Robel has been free on bond. I wonder if the judge will grant him a voluntary surrender rather than ordering him into custody today. I'll write a separate post on Robel's sentencing later today.

< USAF Finds ISIS Headquarters Via Social Media and Bombs It | Robel Phillipos Sentenced to Three Years in Prison >
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    Once again, the concept of (none / 0) (#1)
    by NYShooter on Fri Jun 05, 2015 at 03:35:43 PM EST
    allowing judges to "judge," rather than be relegated to rubber stamps for politically motivated (diseased) politicians, proves to be the correct one.

    Sorry, I Don't Understand Your Comment (none / 0) (#2)
    by RickyJim on Fri Jun 05, 2015 at 04:46:53 PM EST
    In the US, Federal Judges are political appointees.  

    I understand that (none / 0) (#3)
    by NYShooter on Fri Jun 05, 2015 at 05:36:04 PM EST
    However, Congress and the state legislatures make the basic policy decisions in regard to sentencing, through the setting of maximum, and occasionally minimum, sentences.

    And, often times, a judge's choices are limited by those factors, and can lead to, IMO, unjust sentences.

    SITE VIOLATOR (none / 0) (#5)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 07:34:47 AM EST
    aslo in another closed thread