A federal judge ruled today that a taxpayer-funded program will pay the legal fees of Robel Phillipos, a friend of Dzokhar Tsarnaev accused of lying to investigators following the Boston Marathon bombing.
Citing financial need, the judge ruled Phillipos is qualified to have his legal expenses covered by the federal program. He will retain the legal representation of attorney Derege Demissie. Demissie requested a second attorney to assist him in the case, but Judge Marianne Bowler shot down the request.
"I don't see this to be of such a great complexity that it needs more than one attorney at a time," Bowler said.
Phillipos is one of three University of Massachusetts students accused of misleading investigators in the weeks following the Boston Marathon bombing. Authorities allege Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev threw away a computer and a backpack full of fireworks from Tsarnaev’s dorm room after he was announced as a suspect in the bombing. Phillipos is accused of lying to investigators about his knowledge of the cover-up.
Phillipos has been charged with lying to investigators and faces up to 16 years in prison if convicted. Tazhayakov and Kadyrbayev are charged with obstruction of justice and face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
All three men have pleaded not guilty to their charges.
Dzokhar Tsarnaev, meanwhile, will go on trial in November for terrorism charges. Federal prosecutors will pursue the death penalty in the case.