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Separate Trials for Boston Bomber Friends

Three college friends of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect will be tried separately, but those trials do not need to be moved out of Massachusetts, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Judge Douglas Woodlock ruled that Azamat Tazhayakov will stand trial on June 30, followed by Dias Kadyrbayev on Sept. 8 and Robel Phillipos on Sept. 29.

Their lawyers had asked the federal judge to move the trial out of state, saying that overwhelming media coverage of the case would mean that their clients won’t receive fair trials in Massachusetts.

Woodlock said the defendants could receive fair trials in Boston, or if need be, in Springfield, 80 miles west of Boston. He pointed to the trial of Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger, which was held in Boston despite the case’s high profile.

Prosecutors opposed the venue change but didn’t object to severing the trials.

Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov are Kazakhstan nationals who are charged with tampering with evidence for removing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s laptop and a backpack containing fireworks from his college dorm room shortly after last year’s fatal bombing. Kadyrbayev also faces conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges. He and Tazhayakov have been held without bail for more than a year.

Phillipos, of Cambridge, is charged with lying to investigators. He has been held under house arrest.

Each pleaded not guilty.

Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges in the April 15, 2013, bombing that killed three people and injured more than 260. He and his older brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, allegedly placed two pressure cooker bombs near the marathon finish line. Three days later, Tamerlan was killed in a gunbattle with police, the same night Massachusetts Institute of Technology security officer Sean Collier was shot and killed.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is facing state charges in Collier’s death.

Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in Tsarnaev’s trial, which is set to begin in November.

Defense lawyers for the three friends also filed motions to suppress some evidence, which Woodlock did not immediately rule on.

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A candlelight vigil for the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings at Garvey Park on April 15, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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