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Boston bombing probe: What Tsarnaev's friends tell us about adolescents (+video)

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An FBI affidavit says that the three friends, who at one point were all students at the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth, had seen images of Mr. Tsarnaev as a suspect in the bombing, had texted with him, and then put the backpack in the garbage “because they did not want Tsarnaev to get into trouble.” It does not specify what happened to the laptop. The FBI account also says Messrs. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov had heard Tsarnaev say a month before that he knew how to make a bomb.

The three suspects’ lawyers have denied the charges and said the young men didn’t know that their friend was one of the bomb suspects.

During adolescence and a search for identity, “friends become so important,” says Jennifer Powell-Lunder, a clinical psychologist in Westchester County, N.Y., and co-author of “Teenage as a Second Language.” When they found the backpack in Tsarnaev’s room, “their gut probably said, ‘Wow, this probably shouldn’t be in here.’... This was a friend who they knew,... everybody talked about him as a good kid, a good guy. I think they were really focusing more on the emotion and ... the connection that they had, at the expense of really understanding the ramifications of what they were doing.”

But the case could lead to more emphasis, at college orientations, for example, on the need to report if peers are involved in something of concern, Dr. Powell-Lunder says.

Kdyrbayev and Tazhayakov, charged with obstruction of justice, could be subject to up to five years in prison. Mr. Phillipos, charged with lying to investigators, could face eight years in prison.

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