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BOSTON (AP) — Jury selection began Monday in the federal trial of a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who is accused of lying to authorities investigating the deadly bombing.
Robel Phillipos, 21, of Cambridge, is charged with making false statements when he was questioned about his movements on April 18, 2013, three days after the bombing and hours after the FBI released photos of Tsarnaev and his brother as suspects in the attack.
Prosecutors allege that Phillipos lied about being in Tsarnaev's dorm room while two other friends — Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev — removed a laptop and a backpack containing fireworks that had been emptied of their explosive powder. Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev both were convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock made preliminary remarks to potential jurors Monday, explaining that Phillipos is not charged with participating in the bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260. He is accused of lying to the FBI during the investigation into the attack. Jury selection is expected to last several days.
Phillipos has been portrayed by his lawyers as a frightened and confused young man who was subjected to intense interrogation but knew nothing about the removal of Tsarnaev's backpack by Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov.
Phillipos was a classmate of Tsarnaev's from high school. He attended the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth with Tsarnaev, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov.
Opening statements in the trial are scheduled for Oct. 6. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.