Former Harvard Student Indicted on Charges Related to Kirkland Shooting
UPDATED: 7:21 p.m.
Brittany J. Smith '09, the former Harvard student implicated in last year's shooting in Kirkland House, pleaded not guilty on accessory and firearms charges during her arraignment on Tuesday.
Smith, 22, allegedly gave her Harvard ID card—which provides electronic swipe access—to the three New York men involved in the shooting of 21-year-old Cambridge resident Justin Cosby in Kirkland House last May. Smith, then a Lowell House senior, was the long-time girlfriend of Jabrai J. Copney, 20, one of the three men connected to the incident.
Smith also allegedly hid the gun used at the scene of murder, lied to the police, and misled a grand jury when she testified.
“Today’s indictment of Brittany Smith is a significant step in unraveling the truth in this case, and holding her accountable for her alleged complicity in, and subsequent attempts to cover up, the murder of Justin Cosby,” Middlesex County District Attorney Gerard T. Leone, Jr. ’85 said in a press release.
On the afternoon of May 18, Cosby was shot during a drug deal gone awry in Kirkland House's J-entryway. Suffering a bullet wound to the abdomen, Cosby stumbled out onto Dunster Street, where he was discovered by passers-by. He was pronounced dead the following day.
Smith had allegedly invited Copney to campus and given her Harvard ID to the three men. After the shooting in Kirkland, Copney returned to Smith with the gun, saying that he had shot someone, and Smith hid the gun in a friend's room without the individual's knowledge, according to Leone's official statement about the case.
That same day, Smith called a cab and used the driver’s phone to help Copney and the two other men—New York residents Jason Aquino and Blayn Jiggetts—escape, and the group went to South Station to take a bus to New York, according to Leone.
When Smith returned to Harvard the day after the shooting, she told the police that her boyfriend’s name was Jordan Coombs and that he had left the University hours before the murder, according to Leone.
Smith also told the police that her boyfriend did not have the card key to enter Kirkland at the time of the shooting and that she had used her card to enter Kirkland House to visit a friend at the time of the incident.
A state police investigation since the proceedings last May revealed that Smith was present when the firearm was loaded in her room before the Kirkland shooting—contrary to Smith's testimony later before a grand jury.
Smith has been charged with accessory after the fact of murder, accessory after the fact of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, accessory after the fact to possession of firearm, possession of firearm, willfully misleading a police officer, and willfully misleading a grand jury investigation.
Smith is currently being held on a $2,500 cash bail, and she has signed a waiver of rendition, which allows Mass. authorities to retrieve Smith from her home in Harlem, N.Y. without undergoing interstate hearing procedures.
Smith, who was arraigned today in the Middlesex Superior Court, will appear in court again on Mar. 31 for a pre-trial conference, according Jessica Venezia, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney's office.
With Tuesday's arraignment, Smith becomes the fourth person to be charged in connection to the case and the first Harvard student charged. Chanequa N. Campbell ’09, who was also linked to the shooting, denied any involvement with the incident and has not been charged to date.
Neither Cosby nor the three men accused of participating in Cosby's death were Harvard students, but Cosby may have been involved in drug sales to Harvard students.
Smith, who hails from Harlem, did not receive her diploma at last year's Commencement ceremony.
—Staff writer Elias J. Groll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Xi Yu can be reached at email@example.com.