WOBURN, Mass. — A former Harvard University student was sentenced Friday to three years in prison after pleading guilty in connection with the 2009 fatal shooting of a Cambridge man during a drug robbery inside a dormitory.
By pleading guilty Friday, Brittany Smith, 24, admitted she hid the gun used in the shooting of Justin Cosby and helped three men involved in the killing elude authorities and flee to New York City.
Prosecutors said Cosby, 21, was shot during an attempted robbery by Smith’s former boyfriend, Jabrai Jordan Copney, and two other New York City men.
Under a plea agreement, Smith pleaded guilty to several charges including accessory after the fact to assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
As part of the deal, prosecutors agreed to drop a charge of accessory after the fact to murder.
Copney was convicted of first-degree murder in Cosby’s death and is serving a life sentence.
Prosecutors said Copney pretended to be a Harvard student who wanted to buy marijuana from Cosby.
They said Copney, along with friends Blayn Jiggetts and Jason Aquino, lured Cosby to the basement of the dorm, where Copney shot him when he refused to hand over the marijuana. None of the men attended Harvard.
Assistant District Attorney Daniel Bennett said that after the shooting, when the men returned to Smith’s dorm room, she hid the 9mm semiautomatic handgun used in the shooting, then hailed the men a cab to the bus station. Bennett said Smith bought bus tickets for all three men and herself, then took a bus to New York City with them.
Bennett said Smith lied to police and later a grand jury to protect her boyfriend, Copney.
“All she had to do was tell the truth. All she had to do was accept responsibility,” Bennett said.
“She hasn’t accepted responsibility at all at any time in this case.”
Justin Cosby’s mother, Denise Cosby, called Smith “the nucleus of this whole catastrophe” and asked Judge Kathe Tuttman to give her a stiff sentence.
“In my opinion, you are just as responsible for my son’s death as the shooter. The only thing you didn’t do was pull the trigger,” she said during a victim impact statement she made before sentencing.
Smith did not offer a statement or show any visible emotion during the sentencing hearing. Before the hearing, she kissed and said “I love you” to her family, seated in the front row of the courtroom.
Smith’s lawyer, John Osler, said Smith didn’t help plan the robbery and didn’t participate in Cosby’s murder.
“There is no act alleged in any one of these indictments against Miss Smith that bears any causal relationship to the death of Justin Cosby,” Osler said.
“This is a young woman who made some big mistakes beginning the moment her boyfriend walked back into that room with a gun in his hand,” he said.
Smith, who was also from New York City, was 22 and weeks away from graduating from Harvard when Cosby was killed. After the shooting, Smith was suspended and not allowed to graduate.
Prosecutors asked for a sentence of five to seven years while the defense asked for 18 months.
Tuttman sentenced Smith to three years to three years and a day, a sentence that effectively means she won’t be eligible for parole.