Muslims are Poorly Defended & Easily Proven Guilty by Association.
Even though Azamat's lawyers argued that it was his friend, Dias Kadyrbayev, who removed Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's backpack containing fireworks from his University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth dorm room, jurors on Monday, July 21, 2014 found Azamat Tazhayakov guilty of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Azamat was however found not guilty regarding the laptop, which was also removed from Dzhokhar's dorm room and kept at Azamat and Dias' New Bedford home until it was handed over to the FBI. The jury agreed with prosecutors that both men shared in the decision to remove the items and get rid of them to hide evidence. Dias' trial will begin in early September. A third friend, Robel Phillipos, charged with lying to investigators, will be tried in late September. The seven men and five women on the jury deliberated for three days.
"My fellow jurors were 100 percent dedicated to doing our job," a juror told legal commentator David Frank, "and that was taking everything else out of consideration and focusing on just the law." The juror also mentioned that the jurors were at 11-1 in favor of guilt that morning before the lone holdout had a change of heart.
Azamat's defense, like most lawyers representing Muslim clients in the US, did not defend the innocence of their client as strenuously as they could have, because they relied on the Constitutional burden of proof being upon the government prosecutors. Traditionally, it is enough to show that the prosecution has a flimsy case.
However, when the defendant is a Muslim tied into a terror case, his innocence needs to be demonstrated to the jury, and sometimes social studies lessons by testifying experts for cultural context are even needed. None of this happened in Azamat's trial. Perhaps it didn't seem necessary because the government witnesses all made Azamat sound like the nicest guy in the world. Still, the defense relied too much on this intellectual subtlety.
"We were all shocked when the prosecution rested and the defense immediately rested," the juror said. "We were like, 'You're not going to put a defense on?' They didn't call a single character witness. Someone said, 'Who could they have called?' How about a professor? How about a neighbor? They called no one."
As the jury announced the verdicts, Azamat put his hands over his face and shook his head. His father, Ismagoulov remained stoic while his mother, Tuyrsynai sobbed loudly, rocking his little sister Almira. Azamat's parents fought hard for him to get a fair and speedy trial. They were in the courtroom at every hearing. His mother often nursed Almira under a shawl to keep her quiet.
According to reporter Kevin Cullen, "She grabbed their 2-year-old daughter, Almira, put her on her lap, then covered Almira with a brightly covered scarf, as if to shield her from what was about to happen... In that moment before the verdict was read, in that brief slice of silence, the tinny voice of Almira leaked from beneath the scarf: she was singing."
"Azamat's mother speaks no English, and her reaction was delayed, as she listened to the translation. The translator's words spilled from her headset and she bent forward, as if she'd been punched. She dropped the scarf, and Almira stared up, uncomprehending.
Tuyrsynai rocked back and forth, keening. Almira climbed down and grabbed the headset her mother had dropped. She put the headset on, as if it would help her understand what was making her mother cry. No longer a cloak, the scarf became a handkerchief, and Tuyrsynai daubed her eyes. 'Mama,' Almira said, looking up, smiling. Her innocence stood in stark, striking contrast to what the jury just decided her brother had done."
Tazhayakov faces a possible 20-year prison sentence for obstruction of justice and a five-year maximum for conspiracy but the defense will ask for time served, which would be 1 1/2 years by the time of sentencing, which is scheduled for October 16, 2014.
The jury may have been influenced by a surveillance video taken the day after the Boston Marathon bombings, which shows Azamat walking with Dzhokhar into the student gym and exiting later. They both appear relaxed and acting normal. However, the video when released to the public received harsh reviews from outraged people assuming the guilt of the bombing suspect, accusing Dzhokhar of having a "smirk" on his face. The intent of the video was to demonstrate his friendship with Azamat.
"Aza is a good kid and he has no priors. I expect the friends will all have to serve some time. They all committed crimes and there is no way around that. Even if they are only found guilty of lesser charges, they are legit charges. So pray for his family. Send him kind, comforting words. And be patient," urged an anonymous friend.
One of Azamat's lawyers, Nicholas Wooldridge, said he will ask the judge to sentence his client to time served. He suggested to the media that the jurors were under pressure to render a verdict against Azamat.