New Boston Suspect: I Was "Average Guy"

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 2 2013 4:54 PM

School Project Suggests Dzhokhar's College Friend Is "Average Guy," Not the Best Speller

A video uploaded to YouTube last year gives us our first good look at Robel Phillipos, one of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's three 19-year-old friends that police have charged with intentionally hindering the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings. If convicted, Phillipos faces the longest sentence (8 years) of the three because, unlike his two friends, he is charged with lying to federal investigators. Obviously, the video—uploaded in March 2012—doesn't tell us anything about the bombings or the alleged cover-up, but if nothing else it serves as a reminder of just how young the suspects are.

From the looks of it, the video is some sort of school project. My best guess is that he's talking about The Charlton Story: Earle Perry Charlton, 1863-1930, One of the Five Founders of the F.W. Woolworth Company. (The video is labeled "Charton Story" but a quick YouTube search for the proper spelling returns a number of similar video book reviews from students.) One of the more interesting parts of the video comes at around the 3:30 mark when Phillipos talks about philanthropy and what would happen if he, like the character he's discussing, were to "step into a shit-ton of money":

"I grew up in a very mild-mannered way of living. I wasn't too poor, I wasn't too rich. I was, you know, an average guy. But I've experienced so much, you know, going to Africa—I've seen the 'depths of hell' and back. So I've seen the poor people, and I can definitely see myself giving a lot of money—not only money, but actually trying to make a difference."

(h/t CBS News, which appears to have been among the first to spot the video.)

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter, and read more on Slate about the Boston Marathon bombing.***

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 


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