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November 21, 2014

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Ex-roommate: Tsarnaev seemed normal after bombings

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AP Photo/Federal Bureau of Investigation

This file photo provided April 19, 2013, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

BOSTON — Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did not seem nervous or agitated in the days after the deadly attack, his former college roommate testified Tuesday during the trial of a Tsarnaev friend accused of obstructing the investigation.

In the few days after the April 2013 bombing, Andrew Dwinells said, Tsarnaev spent much of his time the same way he always did: sleeping, texting and going on his computer.

"He slept a little bit more, but that was it," Dwinells said.

Dwinells' testimony came during the trial of Azamat Tazhayakov, who is accused with another friend, Dias Kadyrbayev, of removing items from Tsarnaev's University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth dorm room three days after the bombings and hours after the FBI posted video and photos of Tsarnaev as a suspect.

His description of Tsarnaev's behavior after the bombings was elicited by Tazhayakov's attorneys during cross-examination and appeared designed to underscore the defense's contention that none of the people who knew Tsarnaev — including Tazhayakov — had any idea that Tsarnaev was a suspect in the bombings until after the FBI released his photo.

During questioning by prosecutors, Dwinells said he and Tsarnaev shared a room but didn't talk much and never socialized together.

Dwinells described the night of April 18, 2013, when prosecutors say Tazhayakov, Kadyrbayev and another friend went to Tsarnaev's dorm room after Tsarnaev texted Kadyrbayev and said they could "take what's there."

Dwinells said a man he later learned was Kadyrbayev "said he needed to get into the room to get something."

After getting a small bag of marijuana out of a desk drawer, Kadyrbayev continued to look around the room for another 10 minutes, but Dwinells said he did not see any other items being taken. Dwinells said the other men — Tazhayakov and Robel Phillipos — sat down and watched TV while Kadyrbayev searched the room.

Prosecutors contend that Tazhayakov agreed with Kadyrbayev's plan to take a backpack containing altered fireworks and to throw away the items to protect Tsarnaev.

Tazhayakov's lawyers insist that he sat passively in the dorm room while Kadyrbayev took the backpack and did not participate in the decision to throw it away.

Two bombs placed near the marathon finish line killed three people and injured more than 260.

In other testimony Tuesday, an FBI agent said Tazhayakov initially denied knowing what was in Tsarnaev's backpack but eventually said he saw fireworks that appeared to have been emptied of powder.

Agent Sara Wood said he told her he said "I agree" when Kadyrbayev suggested throwing away the backpack.

During cross-examination by Tazhayakov's lawyer, Wood acknowledged that Tazhayakov told her it was Kadyrbayev who actually took the backpack and threw it away.

Tsarnaev is awaiting trial. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Authorities say he and his older brother, Tamerlan, planted the bombs made from pressure cookers. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a shootout with police several days after the bombings.

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