DA: Songwriter killed Cambridge man at Harvard over drugs
A 20-year-old New York City man is being held without bail, charged with murder in connection with Monday’s shooting death of a Cambridge man at a Harvard dorm.
Jabrai Jordan Copney, 20, turned himself in to authorities at the Cambridge Police Station Thursday at approximately 7:10 p.m.
Copney has been charged with the murder of 21-year-old Justin Cosby, accessory after the fact to murder, and possession of a firearm, according to Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone.
Middlesex District Attorney spokesman Corey Welford said Cosby was allegedly involved with drug dealing on the campus when he was gunned down. Prosecutors say Copney had been in touch with Cosby over the course of several days before the shooting and sought to rob Cosby of $1,000 in cash and one pound of marijuana.
"We believe that the defendant and two others attempted to rob the victim," said Welford.
Welford said the two other suspects are still on the loose. "We believe that they have left the area and are likely in New York City."
A judge entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of Copney Friday morning during his arraignment at Cambridge District Court, 4040 Mystic Valley Parkway, Medford. Copney was hidden away from view inside the courtroom.
"He's fully aware of the charge that has been brought against him," Copney's attorney J.W. Carney said to Judge Roanne Sragow.
After the shooting on Monday, May 18, Copney and the two other assailants took a cab from Cambridge to South Station where he fled to New York that night, prosecutors said .
Carney said Copney contacted him on Wednesday and came back to Boston. After leaving Carney's office on Thursday, Copney walked with his mother and sister in the Boston Public Garden, hugged them goodbye, and drove to the Cambridge Police Department to turn himself in.
Copney, a graduate of the School of Performing Arts high school in New York, is currently a professional songwriter who started at a young age writing for New Edition - known for popular 80s songs like "Candy Girl" and "Cool it Now." The group went on a hiatus to do solo projects after original member Bobby Brown was forced out, but recorded again in the late 90s. Some members still take the stage today.
Carney said Copney's father is a retired New York police officer and his mother works for the city of New York. His girlfriend is currently a senior at Harvard University. He has no criminal record, only a civil infraction in California, Carney said.
According to authorities, on May 18, at approximately 4:48 p.m., the Harvard University Police responded to the Kirkland House located on Dunster Street in Cambridge on reports of shots fired. Cambridge Police were also notified and responded to the scene.
Cosby, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the abdomen, had left the Kirkland House and stumbled to the intersection of Dunster Street and Mount Auburn Street. He was transported to Beth Israel Hospital and was pronounced dead early on the morning of May 19.
Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, Cambridge Police, and Harvard Police began an investigation into the circumstances of the shooting.
Based on that investigation, it was determined that the defendant, who is not a student at Harvard University, was visiting friends at the campus. It is alleged that the defendant, along with others, confronted Cosby in a common area inside the Kirkland House. During the course of the confrontation, multiple shots were fired. One of those shots struck Cosby, resulting in his death. It is believed that the defendant and Cosby were known to one another.
The defendant and others involved fled the scene.
This investigation is ongoing into the circumstances of the shooting as well as into other suspects who may have been involved.
The prosecutor assigned to the case is Assistant District Attorney and Senior Trial Counsel Daniel Bennett. The case is being investigated by Harvard University Police, Cambridge Police, and the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.
Copney is scheduled for a probable cause hearing July 15.
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