New York Man Found Guilty Of Fatal Shooting At Harvard University

WOBURN – A New York man has been found guilty today on murder charges in connection with the shooting death of Justin Cosby, 21, of Cambridge, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone informed the public today.

Jabrai Jordan Copney, 22, of New York City, New York, was found guilty by a Middlesex Superior Court jury on charges of First Degree Murder and Carrying a Firearm Without a license. Middlesex Superior Court Judge John Lu sentenced the defendant to life in prison with no eligibility for parole on the murder charge and two and one half to three years in prison to run concurrent on the firearm charge.

“A manipulative and calculating Jabrai Jordan Copney has been found guilty today of arming himself with a gun that he used to rob and kill Justin Cosby. Copney then executed his plan in a dormitory basement stairway area that was a virtual dead-end with no way out, fatally shooting Justin Cosby when he attempted to struggle and get away. Copney then attempted to cover up his crimes,” District Attorney Leone said. “This brazen robbery and killing occurred in broad daylight on a well-known university campus, making it clear that the drug trade and violence go hand in hand, where no one is spared, and no community is isolated nor immune. We commend the jury for their just verdict today, and for holding the defendant accountable for violently taking away the life of a beloved young man by shooting him to death. Our thoughts continue to be with Justin’s family and friends.”

According to authorities, on Monday, May 18, 2009 at approximately 4:48 p.m., the Harvard University Police responded to Kirkland House, located on Dunster Street in Cambridge, for reports of shots fired. Cambridge Police were also notified and responded to the scene.

Cosby, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the abdomen, had lfled Kirkland House and ran to the intersection of Dunster Street and Mount Auburn Street, where he collapsed. He was transported to Beth Israel Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at approximately 4 a.m. on May 19.

Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, Cambridge Police, and Harvard University Police began an investigation into the circumstances of the shooting.

Based on that investigation, it was determined that Copney, Jason Aquino, and Blayn Jiggetts, none of whom were students at Harvard University, arranged for a meeting with Cosby for the purpose of robbing Cosby. During the meeting with Cosby in a common area inside Kirkland House, multiple shots were fired. One of those shots struck Cosby, resulting in his death.

Authorities alleged that a fourth defendant, Brittany Smith, a student at Harvard at the time of the shooting, invited Copney to the campus. Smith is alleged to have given her Harvard- issued ID, which works as an electronic key card, to the three defendants in order to allow them to enter the building where the fatal shooting occurred. After the shooting, it is alleged that Smith carried the firearm used in the murder to another location on campus, where she hid it under a friend’s dormitory bed.

Copney, Aquino, Jiggetts and Smith fled the scene and returned to New York City on a bus from Boston that evening.

It is alleged that Smith returned to Massachusetts with Copney the next to retrieve the murder weapon day and that when she was questioned by the Harvard Police about her ID card, she lied to them, telling them that she had the pass key in her possession the entire time.

Copney, 22, of New York City, New York, was arrested in connection with the murder on May 21 and was arraigned on May 22, 2009, in Cambridge District Court He was ordered held without bail. On June 26, Copney was indicted by a Middlesex Superior Court Grand Jury. Copney was arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court on July 22 and ordered held without bail.

Aquino was arrested on Thursday, July 30, at 40 Saint Nicholas Place in Manhattan on a Massachusetts warrant by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, Cambridge Police, and the New York City Police Department. He was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on July 31, at which point he waived rendition. Aquino was arraigned on August 3 in Cambridge District Court where he was ordered held without bail. He was indicted by a Middlesex County Grand Jury on September 17 and was arraigned on September 23 in Middlesex Superior Court where Clerk Magistrate Michael Sullivan ordered the defendant held without bail. On March 16, 2010, Aquino was indicted by a Middlesex Superior Court Grand Jury on upgraded charges of murder, armed robbery, and willfully misleading a Grand Jury. He was arraigned on May 11, at which time Clerk Magistrate Sullivan again ordered him held without bail. On March 24, 2011, he pleaded guilty to charges of Manslaughter, Armed Robbery, and Willfully misleading a Grand Jury. He will be sentenced on May 2.

Jiggetts, 21, of New York City, New York, was arrested June 9, 2009 in Harlem at approximately 11:50 p.m. by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, Cambridge Police, and detectives from the New York City Police Department Manhattan North Homicide Unit. Jiggetts was arrested on a Massachusetts warrant charging him with first degree murder, accessory after the fact of murder, armed robbery, and possession of a firearm. On July 10, he appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court at 100 Center Street, Manhattan, and was charged as a fugitive from justice. He was ordered held without bail. Jiggetts was indicted by a Middlesex Grand Jury on July 30 on charges of first degree murder, accessory after the fact of murder, armed robbery, and possession of a firearm. Jiggetts was arraigned on September 23 in Middlesex Superior Court and ordered held without bail. Jiggetts has since pled guilty to charges of Manslaughter, Armed Robbery, and Possession of a Firearm. His sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

Smith, 24, of New York City, New York, was indicted by a Middlesex Superior Court Grand Jury on March 16 on charges of illegal possession of a firearm, accessory after the fact to murder, willfully misleading a Grand Jury and willfully misleading a police officer. Smith was arraigned later that afternoon in Middlesex Superior Court in the clerk magistrate's session, where she was ordered held on $2,500 cash bail with the condition that she must report to Cambridge Police Department within 24 hours should she post bail. Smith’s next court date is April 25.

The prosecutors assigned to the case are Assistant District Attorney Daniel Bennett and Assistant District Attorney David Solet. The victim witness advocate is Helena Clarke. The case was investigated by Harvard University Police, Cambridge Police, and the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.

Statement from Cosby Family:

“My son's death has been a Mother's Worst Nightmare. Justin was a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin and good friend to many. I am so thankful that this murderer is off the streets and will not be able to plan and execute any other murders. Justin was a sweet and hardworking young man who attended college right here in Massachusetts, studying ­­­­computers and working part time at a gas station to help pay his tuition. My son made a mistake by selling marijuana to some fellow students; however, what he did shouldn't have cost him his life. Jabrai Copney took it upon himself to be the judge and jury and solicited his sick and misguided friends to help him lure, rob and murder my son, someone he didn't even know. Clearly, robbing people is a pattern of his, being that he's done the same thing before under the same circumstances. Now, he finally gets the punishment he deserves before he kills someone else and breaks another family chain. Jabrai’s life sentence does not bring complete closure to my son’s death; however, we can finally start seeking closure.

Our family would like to thank ADA Dan Bennett; ADA Dave Solet; and Victim Witness Advocate Helena Clarke whom have been invaluable over the past two years. The New York City Police, Cambridge Police; Harvard Police; MA State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and especially Det. Jack Crowley; Sgt. William Donahue and Trooper Kevin Baker who have been sensitive, informative, and professional throughout this whole process. Gerry Leone and the whole Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office have given us the strength to endure this whole calamity which has emotionally devastated our family.”

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