Boston bomb suspect’s pal released pending trial
No burial space for Tamelan Tsarnaev
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
BOSTON (AP) — A friend of the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was released from federal custody Monday amid a swell of support from family and friends as a Massachusetts funeral director tried to find a place willing to bury a second suspect who was killed after a gun battle with police.
Robel Phillipos, a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was released on $100,000 bond while he awaits trial for allegedly lying to federal investigators probing the April 15 bombings.
Phillipos, 19, who was a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with Tsarnaev, was charged last week with lying to investigators about visiting Tsarnaev’s dorm room three days after the bombings. He faces up to eight years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors initially asked that Phillipos be held while he awaits trial, arguing that he poses a serious flight risk.
But prosecutors and Phillipos’ lawyers agreed in a joint motion filed Monday that Phillipos could be released under strict conditions, including home confinement, monitoring with an electronic bracelet and a $100,000 secured bond.
Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler agreed to the request during a hearing Monday, saying he would be under “strict house arrest,” and only allowed to leave his home to meet with his lawyer and for true emergencies.
Meanwhile, a Worcester funeral home director said he was still trying to find a cemetery to bury Tsarnaev’s brother, Tamerlan, who died four days after the bombings. Peter Stefan said he has been turned down by several cemeteries in Massachusetts. He planned to ask the city of Cambridge, where the Tsarnaev brothers lived for the past decade, to allow Tamerlan to be buried in a city-owned cemetery.
But Cambridge City Manager Robert Healy urged the Tsarnaev family not to make the request.
“The difficult and stressful efforts of the citizens of the City of Cambridge to return to a peaceful life would be adversely impacted by the turmoil, protests, and wide spread media presence at such an interment,” Healy said in a statement Sunday.
On Monday, Stefan said he is looking outside of Massachusetts and does not believe Russia will take the body.
If Russia refuses to accept the body, Cambridge may be forced to take it, said Wake Forest University professor Tanya Marsh, an expert in U.S. law on the disposal of human remains.
Massachusetts law requires every community to provide a suitable place to bury its residents, she said. Cambridge’s appeal to the family not to ask it to bury the body is likely a way to set up its defense if the family goes to court to try to force the burial, Marsh said.
Such a case would be unprecedented in Massachusetts, she said. She added that even in a country that’s had its share of notorious accused killers, this kind of opposition to a burial is unheard of and is exposing holes in the law, Marsh said.
“It’s a mess,” she said. “We’re really sort of in uncharted territory.”
Gov. Deval Patrick said the question of what to do with the body is a “family issue” that should not be decided by the state or federal government. He said family members had “options” and he hoped they would make a decision soon.
He declined to say whether he thought it would be appropriate for the body to be buried in Massachusetts.
“We showed the world in the immediate aftermath of the attacks what a civilization looks like, and I’m proud of what we showed, and I think we continue to do that by stepping back and let the family make their decisions,” the governor told reporters.
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