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Two Ivy League drug dealers, one a former Harvard student and the other a Yale graduate, appeared in court on Friday to offer testimony against Jabrai Jordan Copney, the alleged gunman in the 2009 Kirkland shooting.
Chanequa N. Campbell, formerly a member of the Harvard Class of 2009, testified that Copney told her prior to the killing of Justin Cosby in a Kirkland House basement that he planned to steal drugs from Cosby.
This assertion is crucial to the prosecution’s theory that the shooting occurred during a felony attempt, giving them grounds to charge Copney with first-degree murder.
During her testimony, Campbell admitted to selling marijuana and cocaine during her time at Harvard.
Jules E. Bolton, who said he made a $40,000 profit selling marijuana during his time as a Yale student, told the jury that months before the May 2009 killing at Harvard, he was robbed of three pounds of marijuana by Copney and an associate—identified as Blayn “Bliz” Jiggetts, who was also indicted for the Kirkland murder and pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter.
The prosecution is attempting to show that the alleged robbery of Bolton served as a template for Copney’s plan to rob Cosby at gunpoint.
Defense attorney John A. Amabile renewed a complaint he has been making since before the trial started last week: that any discussion of the alleged prior robbery of Bolton will unfairly prejudice the jury.
However, the earlier robbery was mentioned in front of the jury for the first time Friday, when Bolton took the stand. Bolton told jurors that he met Copney—who was dating Campbell’s close friend Brittany J. Smith, also a Harvard student at the time—in Campbell’s dorm room in 2008.
“We smoked marijuana and discussed doing a deal in the future,” Bolton said of his first meeting with Copney.
Bolton then said that Copney agreed to purchase three pounds of marijuana from him in New York City.
When the men met for the deal—Bolton accompanied by fellow Yale student Alexander T. King and Copney by Jiggetts—Jiggetts drew a semiautomatic pistol on the Yale students, and Bolton handed over the marijuana, Bolton said.
Bolton and King’s IDs—which Copney allegedly took during the robbery—were found months later, concealed alongside the gun that allegedly killed Cosby.
Above Amabile’s objections, the prosecution entered the two IDs into evidence on Friday.
Campbell was not questioned on the stand Friday about her knowledge of the robbery of the Yalies, though she has said in a different hearing that she was aware of it. However, prosecutor Daniel J. Bennett ’85 asked her several questions about attitudes that Copney generically expressed toward drug dealers.
“Did he indicate to you that people who sold drugs you could rob, because if you robbed those people who sold drugs, they couldn’t go to the police?” Bennett asked. Campbell said that Copney had communicated that view.
Campbell then said that Copney told her prior to the Kirkland shooting that he had visited the home of a drug dealer named Justin Cosby. The two men smoked marijuana together and agreed to meet in Kirkland House—where Copney would buy 1.5 pounds of high-quality marijuana and 1.5 pounds of a lower-grade marijuana from Cosby, according to Campbell.
“Did he indicate what his intention was with regard to this marijuana?” Bennett asked.
“Yes, he was gonna rob him,” Campbell replied.
On the day of the shooting, Campbell said, “[Copney] told me that his boys were coming up from New York and that stuff was going down.... Bliz [Jiggetts] was coming up with a hammer.”
Campbell clarified that “a hammer” referred to a gun.
Campbell added, “He said he wasn’t afraid, and if Justin came back looking for him or if there were any problems, then he would air it out and put Harvard on the news.”
On cross-examination, Campbell acknowledged that she sold marijuana and cocaine during her time at Harvard. Amabile asked both Campbell and Bolton, based on their experiences as drug dealers, about the potential for a dispute during a drug transaction. Both dealers confirmed that buyers and sellers might argue over the quantity, quality, and price of marijuana exchanged—helping Amabile lay the grounds for one aspect of his defense.
With this testimony on the record, Amabile may later argue that, rather than entering the Kirkland annex with the intent of robbing Cosby, Copney was planning on exchanging money for drugs—a transaction which turned violent when Cosby’s product was not what Copney expected.
If the prosecution cannot convince the jury that the shooting occurred during the commission of a felony which is itself punishable by life in prison, such as armed robbery, then the jury has been instructed that it cannot find Copney guilty of first-degree murder.
Amabile pushed Campbell to name varieties of high-quality marijuana as he attempted to establish that quality can cause arguments during drug deals.
“I’ve been to Amsterdam three times.... I’ve been exposed to marijuana from all over the world,” said Campbell, who according to a 2008 Crimson article spent her junior year abroad, visiting 12 countries on three continents.
Bennett also asked Campbell about her drug use. She said she had smoked marijuana about 1,000 times, including daily use with Copney during her senior year, when Copney was living in Smith’s room in Lowell House.
—Kerry M. Flynn contributed reporting to this story.
—Staff writer Julie M. Zauzmer can be reached at email@example.com.
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