A new look at Robel Phillipos
BOSTON (WHDH) -- Officials say 19-year-old Robel Phillipos has known Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for years, the two of them went to high school and college together.
Phillipos, a U.S. citizen, is one of the three suspects arrested in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing, but the trio wasn’t associated with the attacks. Phillipos is accused of lying to the FBI. He appeared in federal court on May 1.
“My client is not charged with helping the suspect in anyway whatsoever, before or after,” said defense attorney Derege B. Demissie. “And he had no knowledge of the incident.”
But a criminal complaint says Phillipos lied to investigators three times about being in Tsarnaev’s dorm room days after the bombings. During a fourth interview, the FBI said Phillipos admitted to being in Tsarnaev’s room with the other suspects.
He saw Tsarnaev’s backpack with the empty explosives and “freaked out” that Tsarnaev was allegedly the marathon bomber. Phillipos told investigators that he didn’t know what the other two suspects did with the backpack because they were speaking in Russian and he didn’t understand.
Featured in an online video, neighbors described the teen, who is from Cambridge, as a good student focused on his studies.
“Robel is a nice boy, very nice kid -- he [doesn’t] talk too much,” said neighbor, Tecleverhan Mengistu. “He’s a very nice boy.”
Phillipos, a naturalized citizen, was born in Ethiopia and lives in Cambridge with his single mother.
The family’s apartment building is located next to the gas station where the carjacking victim from the night of the shootout in Watertown escaped.