Nineteen-year-old American citizen Robel Phillipos, one of the three suspects charged with helping to get rid of possible incriminating evidence against their friend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, will be released from jail today and shuffled into home arrest. Yes, federal authorities have apparently determined that the biggest threat posed by Phillipos now is telling dumb lies about visiting an alleged terrorist's dorm room, not fleeing a side investigation into how his pals threw out a backpack full of explosives in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. In a document filed by Phillipos's attorney and the Department of Justice earlier today, "both said they had agreed on a plan to release Phillipos from custody. Under the plan, Phillipos would be under home confinement at a home other than his own, he would wear a monitoring ankle bracelet, and post a secured bond worth $100,000," reports The Boston Globe. And it looks like a judge made that official this afternoon.
The biggest factor in the decision: prosecutors and the Justice Department don't believe Phillipos is a flight risk. Also at work here: Phillipos may not have been directly involved in the ongoing terror plot, or at least his lawyers say so. The charges against Phillipos — lying to investigators over a series of four interviews — all have to do with the time period after the bombings, and not with that fateful backback doing in the two other not very smart friends, Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov. The timing of when each of the three 19-year-olds knew that Tsarnaev was a suspect — after his photo surfaced across the country but before his name was released, in between which the bag apparently vanished from the dorm room — continues to be the centerpiece of the charges against all three.
The Globe's staff report today mentions that a hearing in 10 days could decide the next steps for Phillipos, but its unclear if this is a good sign for either side :
The document also suggests that a quick resolution of the criminal charges could be in the offing. Both sides asked for a probable cause hearing to be changed to May 16 so the both sides can “confer about how this matter should proceed."
Phillipos could face a maximum of eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine if he is found guilty of lying to federal investigators.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.