Daniel J. Bennett ’85 and Gerard T. Leone ’85 were roommates in Kirkland House in 1983.
Twenty-eight years later, they are prosecutors in the high-profile murder case of a shooting that took place in the basement of that same House.
Jabrai Jordan Copney allegedly shot Justin Cosby—a Cambridge resident—on May 18, 2009, after a drug deal gone wrong in the basement of Kirkland’s J-entryway.
Bennett, now an assistant district attorney, is serving as the senior prosecutor in Copney’s trial and Leone is the current Middlesex District Attorney.
Assistant District Attorney David M. Solet, another prosecutor in the case, graduated from Harvard Law School in 2001.
Bennett and Leone’s relation to Harvard was brought to the forefront when defense attorney John A. Amabile questioned a former Harvard student involved in the case who took the stand as a witness for the prosecution.
On April 8, Amabile asked the student if, upon agreeing to cooperate, she knew of Bennett’s and Leone’s background and if she had expected that their ties could help her get her diploma when she signed the agreement.
The judge admitted Bennett’s and Leone’s ties to Harvard into evidence after the former student’s testimony, raising the question of whether the prosecution’s Harvard connections will have an impact on Copney’s trial.
"THESE HARVARD ALUMNI"
On June 5, 2009, Chanequa N. Campbell signed an agreement with the District Attorney’s office that allowed her to testify without having the evidence used against her.
Campbell, who was formerly part of the Class of 2009, was friends with Copney’s girlfriend, also a former Harvard student, at the time of the shooting.
In the wake of the incident, Campbell was denied a degree by the College due to her connection with the Kirkland shooting.
Amabile said that as a part of the agreement, signed by Bennett on behalf of Leone, the prosecution may have suggested that Campbell could still earn her degree if she cooperated in the case against Copney.
“She’s thinking that if she comes around, maybe these Harvard alumni will get her reinstated,” Amabile said during his opening statement.
When Amabile questioned Campbell during Copney’s trial, he asked her if she expected that the prosecution’s Harvard ties would help her receive her diploma.
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