BOSTON (USA TODAY) — A federal judge Tuesday refused to dismiss charges against two men accused of aiding the escape of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The ruling came minutes after three friends of Tsarnaev arrived in federal court with hopes of either having the charges dropped or having their summer trials moved from the city where the deadly attacks occurred.
Kazakh nationals Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov face obstruction of justice charges in connection with the investigation that followed the April 15, 2013, marathon bombings that left three dead and more than 260 injured.
"Motions to dismiss are not usually useful ways to get at the substance," Judge Douglas P. Woodlock said. "Generally they arise at a time when it's impossible to make a determination. You have to see the evidence."
Woodlock said the facts would need to come out at trial, adding that he would not act as a "fact finder" in advance of trial.
According to the indictment, the two men tried to protect their friend Tsarnaev by removing from his dormitory room a laptop computer and a backpack containing fireworks that had been emptied of their explosive powder. Their attorneys have filed motions seeking a change of venue, which they argue is necessary for a fair trial.
A third defendant, Robel Phillipos, is charged with lying to investigators. Woodlock is convening several days of pre-trial hearings to consider legal motions in the case and begin evidentiary proceedings, which could include testimony from the defendants.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov arrived wearing button-down shirts and ties with no jackets. They smiled with their attorneys before court was called to order. Phillipos arrived with his attorneys and appeared relaxed in a suit and tie.
Trials for the three defendants are scheduled for late June.