Boston Marathon bomb suspect's friend released on bail

3:06 PM, May 6, 2013   |    comments
Robel Phillipos, 19, appeared in federal court in Boston on May 1 after he was charged with lying to investigators about marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. (Photo: Jane Flavell Collins, AP)
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(USA TODAY) -- A judge ruled Monday that Robel Phillipos, a friend of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, charged with lying to federal authorities investigating the case, can be freed on $100,000 bond and under conditions where he can be monitored 24/7.

Under a joint motion between federal prosecutors and Phillipos' attorney, U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler ordered the 19-year-old released from jail, where he's been held since his May 1 arrest. He'll be confined to his mother's home and be required to wear an electronic monitoring device while he awaits trial.

Phillipos is accused of lying to authorities about visiting DzhokharTsarnaev's University of Massachusetts Dartmouth dorm room only hours after the FBI released photos of the bombing suspect.

Tsarnaev, 19, is charged in connection with the deadly April 15 bombings that left three people dead and 264 wounded. His 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, died following an early morning shootout with police April 18. Dzhokhar was badly wounded and was later found hiding in a boat in the backyard of a house in Watertown, Mass. He is being held in a prison medical center.

Phillipos and two other friends, of Dzhokhar, Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev, who were also in the dorm that evening, are accused of obstruction of justice for allegedly removing a backpack containing evidence linking Tsarnaev to the bombings.

Phillipos is accused of repeatedly denying he knew about the removal of a backpack from the room that night. According to an affidavit, he admitted the fourth time he was questioned that he had not been telling the truth.

His lawyers, in court documents, argued that their client was a "frightened and confused 19 year old" who had been subjected to "intense questioning" without benefit of a lawyer.

Phillipos, the son of a single mother who emigrated to the United States from Ethiopia, faces up to eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted. Phillipos and the others were charged May 1.

In letters filed with the court on his behalf, friends and family members described Phillipos - who was majoring in marketing at UMass Dartmouth and expected to graduate in 2015 - 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."

Contributing: Associated Press

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