Suspect in Harvard Shooting Pleads Not Guilty to All Charges

Unnamed photo
Associated Press

Justin Cosby in a photo released to the AP by his family. Cosby was shot in the basement of Kirkland House and later died from his injuries. Jabrai J. Copney was arraigned today on charges of first degree murder.

Jabrai J. Copney, 20, a suspect in the May 18 Kirkland House shooting that left a Cambridge resident dead, pleaded not guilty to five charges, including first-degree murder, at his Middlesex Superior Court arraignment Wednesday morning.

Copney, who was kept out of view during the arraignment, will continue to be held without bail and is scheduled to appear in Superior Court again on Sept. 10. His defense attorney, J. W. Carney, Jr. said after the arraignment that further hearings will likely take place before the trial, and that more evidence may be exchanged between the prosecution and defense at the hearings. Carney said he expects the trial to begin in September or October of 2010.

In addition to murder, Copney also faces charges of armed robbery, accessory after the fact of murder, attempt to commit a crime, and possession of a firearm for his alleged involvement in the death of Justin Cosby, 21. Prosecutors have said in previous statements that Cosby was the victim of a failed drug rip.

Carney said after the hearing that he has yet to see "any evidence whatsoever" from the Commonwealth indicating that his client was "a participant in the murder." He added that Copney's mood is "surprisingly good" considering that he has been jailed without bail for roughly two months.

"He really does believe that God has a purpose in having him charged with this crime," Carney said, adding that his client has a great deal of religious faith. "He doesn't know what that purpose is yet, but he is confident it will turn out all right for him."

Carney said that while "today wasn't the day to make a bail argument," he does reserve the right to do so in the future.

A statement of the case, written by prosecutors and released at the arraignment, has provided a more detailed account of the alleged events surrounding the shooting.

According to the statement, an unnamed witness observed Copney leaving Kirkland immediately after the shooting carrying a gun. Police said they later recovered a gun which they determined was in Copney's possession immediately after the murder. That gun, a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol, was of the same caliber as casings found at the scene, the report said. A jacket that Copney wore the day of the shooting has also tested positive for gunshot residue, according to the statement.

Copney and Blayn Jiggetts, the second man arrested so far in connection with the murder, reportedly fled Massachusetts soon after the shooting with a third suspect, whom police are still working to locate and apprehend.

Jiggetts, who is being held in New York, has refused to return to Massachusetts voluntarily to face charges, which also include first-degree murder. Corey Welford, a spokesman for the Middlesex District Attorney's office, said that prosecutors are continuing to work to extradite Jiggetts.

The statement also said that, according to phone records, several calls had been made immediately before the shooting from Cosby's phone—calls that police later traced to Copney's phone. Even though Cosby reportedly had the phone right before being shot, the phone was not found on his body or at the scene of the shooting, the report said. Welford said he was not sure if the phone had since been recovered.

The statement also said that roughly four ounces of marijuana, wrapped in a "bloody work shirt with a Sunoco logo," was found near Cosby after the shooting. The statement did not say whether the work shirt has been linked to Copney.

Carney said after the arraignment that Copney is a Christian and reads the Bible every morning and every night before going to bed, and added that his time in jail had given him material for his songwriting. Copney graduated from a performing arts high school in New York City, and at 15, he wrote "Feelin' It," a song performed by the R&B/pop group New Edition.

Carney and Welford both declined to confirm or comment on any involvement of Chanequa N. Campbell '09 and Brittany J. Smith '09 in the shooting. While authorities and media outlets have not explicitly linked Campbell and Smith to the shooting, the two were denied diplomas at Commencement ceremonies in June, and the district attorney's office has stated that two female Harvard students allowed Cosby and the suspects to enter Kirkland.


Harvard Shooting--Statement of Case for Jabrai Jordan Copney

—Staff writer Athena Y. Jiang can be reached at ajiang@fas.harvard.edu.
—Staff writer Peter F. Zhu can be reached at pzhu@fas.harvard.edu.
—Check thecrimson.com throughout the day for updates.