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Tsarnaev Friend Sentenced To 6 Years In Prison For Disposing Of Evidence

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In Boston today, a stiff federal sentence was given to the first of four people convicted of lying or hiding evidence about Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. A college friend, now 21 years old, had pleaded guilty to taking items from Tsarnaev's dorm room and throwing some of them into a dumpster. He was sentenced today to six years in prison. NPR's Tovia Smith reports.

TOVIA SMITH, BYLINE: Dias Kaderbayev, a foreign student who came from Kazakhstan to attend college in Massachusetts, told the judge he can't believe how stupid and irresponsible he was two years ago. While the FBI was pleading for public help to identify the bombing suspects, Kaderbayev texted with Tsarnaev about him being the suspect and posted online that the bomber was his best friend but didn't tell authorities. Instead, he went to Tsarnaev's room and took his laptop and his backpack filled with fireworks, and he threw the backpack away. Kaderbayev says he's ashamed and regrets it every day. He was sentenced to less than what the government wanted but more than what he was hoping for.

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MURAT KADERBAYEV: (Through interpreter) For Dias, and for the whole family, it's a very long time.

SMITH: His father, Murat Kaderbaev, speaking through a translator, said his son has grown up, as he put it, and now understands his mistakes. When asked if he thought the sentence was fair, he said...

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KADERBAYEV: (Through interpreter) It's very hard considering that he's in a cell by himself, and he's been there already for 26 months. But I would like to say that the judge is a very wise man, and it's a wise decision.

SMITH: The judge said the sentence was meant to be a deterrent against obstructing a terrorism investigation. Prosecutors declined to comment afterwards. They'd argued that Kaderbayev showed callous disregard by not helping authorities capture Tsarnaev sooner, and they blame him - at least indirectly - for the death of a campus police officer who the Tsarnaevs shot to death that night. The officer's family said that knowing the murder could have been prevented makes it all the more painful. Kaderbayev's lawyer, Robert Stahl, tried to block their statements, saying Kaderbayev is not responsible for the officer's death.

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ROBERT STAHL: That lies at the feet of the Tsarnaevs.

SMITH: Two other Tsarnaev friends convicted of similar crimes will be sentenced Friday. Meantime, Tsarnaev himself will be formally sentenced to death in federal court later this month. Once that's done, local prosecutors said today they're going to try to bring Tsarnaev to trial on state charges. Tovia Smith, NPR News at the federal court in Boston. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.