BOSTON (AP) — A former Harvard University student was indicted Tuesday as an accessory after the fact in the 2009 fatal shooting of a 21-year-old Cambridge man inside a Harvard dormitory.
Brittany Smith, 22, of New York City, was the girlfriend of Jabrai Jordan Copney, one of three men charged in connection with the killing of 21-year-old Justin Cosby. Cosby lived a few blocks from the Ivy League campus but was not a Harvard student.
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Prosecutors allege the three men — all from New York City and none of them Harvard students — shot Cosby in a Harvard dorm in a robbery attempt during a deal to buy marijuana from him.
Copney, 20, and Blayn Jiggetts, 19, are charged with first-degree murder and other counts, while Jason Aquino, 23, is charged with being an accessory after the fact of armed robbery and carrying a firearm without a license. All three have pleaded not guilty.
Smith is accused of giving the men her Harvard electronic key card to enter the building where the shooting occurred, hiding the gun under a friend’s dorm bed and lying to authorities. She was indicted on charges of accessory after the fact of murder, illegal possession of a firearm and willfully misleading a grand jury and police.
“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 District Attorney Gerry Leone said in a statement.
Smith pleaded not guilty at her arraignment Tuesday in Middlesex Superior Court. She was ordered held in lieu of $2,500 cash bail. Her lawyer, John Osler, did not immediately return a message left by The Associated Press.
Smith, who was a senior and aspiring lawyer at the time of the killing, was suspended from Harvard and was not allowed to receive her diploma. Smith remains barred from the campus.
“We take the security of our campus very seriously. As we said at the time of the incident last May, the University took appropriate steps based on information that we learned from the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office. The individual charged by the DA today has not been allowed on campus since that time,” Harvard said in a statement.
A second Harvard student, Chanequa Campbell, who was Smith’s friend, was also banned from Harvard and not allowed to graduate. Campbell has not been charged and has denied any involvement in the shooting.
Harvard officials declined to discuss her case Tuesday. Her lawyer, Jeffrey Karp, said Campbell remains barred from campus and has not received her degree from Harvard.
Karp said Campbell is having “considerable difficulty” finding a job because of the notoriety of the case and because of Harvard’s decision not to give her a diploma.
“I assume the investigation is over, and it seems to me that the fair thing for Harvard to do is to give her a diploma and allow her to graduate,” Karp said.
The shooting happened on May 18, 2009. Cosby, with a gunshot wound in his abdomen, ran from the dorm and collapsed in the street. He died early the next morning.
Prosecutors say Smith invited Copney to campus and gave him her Harvard-issued ID — which works as an electronic key card — to the three men so they could enter the dormitory. After the shooting, she allegedly carried the gun to another location on campus and hid it under a friend’s bed. She then fled the campus with the three men and returned to New York City with them on a bus from Boston that night, prosecutors allege.
Prosecutors say Smith returned to Massachusetts with Copney the next day. When questioned by Harvard police about her ID card, she allegedly lied, telling them that she had the pass key with her the whole time.
During a later investigation, Smith allegedly misled the grand jury by saying she was unaware of the presence of the gun used in the shooting until after the killing. Prosecutors say Smith was present when the gun was loaded before the shooting.