BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) – A magistrate judge has agreed to release a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from federal custody while he awaits trial for allegedly lying to federal investigators probing the April 15 bombings.
Robel Phillipos, 19, was charged last week with lying to investigators looking into the April 15 bombings. The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth student faces a maximum of eight years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors and Phillipos' defense filed a joint motion to release Phillipos on $100,000 bond, provided that he wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and be subject to 24-hour home confinement.
Phillipos was released into the custody of his mother. Fox 25's Bob Ward reported that a man sitting next to Phillipos' mother in court put up a piece of property to secure his release.
At about 4:10 p.m. a person believed to be Phillipos was rushed through a sea of reporters to a waiting SUV. It was later learned that person was a decoy and Phillipos was brought to a red car.
A probable cause hearing is set for May 17.
Phillipos is accused of lying to investigators about visiting Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's college dorm room on April 18, three days after the bombings. Two other friends were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by taking a backpack with fireworks and a laptop from Tsarnaev's dorm room. All four had studied at UMass Dartmouth.
Defense attorneys for Phillipos said in court documents their client had nothing to do with the deadly bombings and isn't a flight risk.
In letters filed with the motion, friends and family members urged the court to release Phillipos on bail, describing him 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."
Phillipos' resume, filed in court, shows he was majoring in marketing with a minor in sociology at UMass Dartmouth and expected to graduate in 2015.