New York Man ( Jason Aquino) Sentenced In Connection With Shooting Death At Harvard University

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

Jason Aquino, 21, of Manhattan, New York, pleaded guilty on March 24 in Middlesex Superior Court to charges of manslaughter, and willfully misleading a Grand Jury. Today, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead sentenced the defendant to 18 to 20 years in state prison on the manslaughter charge and 4 to 5 years in state prison on the willfully misleading a Grand Jury charge.

“On behalf of Justin, his mother and sister, his entire family and circle of friends, we continue to hold all those accountable for the killing of Justin Cosby,” District Attorney Leone said. “Our efforts continue as we turn our attention to the sentencing of Blayn Jiggetts, and the trial of Brittany Smith.”

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 left 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 Aquino, Jabrai Jordan Copney, 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.

Aquino, Copney, 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 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.

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 and willfully misleading a Grand Jury.

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 on charges of murder, accessory after the fact to murder, and possession of a firearm. He was ordered held without bail. On June 26, Copney was indicted by a Middlesex Superior Court Grand Jury on charges of first degree murder, accessory after the fact to murder, attempt to commit a crime, armed robbery, and possession of a firearm. Copney was arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court on July 22 and ordered held without bail. He was found guilty by a Middlesex Superior Court jury on charges 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.

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 Centre 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 May 9.

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