Bloomberg News

Ex-Harvard Student Gets Three Years in Drug Dealer Death

September 30, 2011

(Updates with charges in second paragraph.)

Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) -- A former Harvard University student was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty in Massachusetts today to charges in connection with the fatal shooting of a drug dealer in a campus dorm.

Brittany Smith, 24, pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a firearm, being an accessory after the fact and willfully misleading a grand jury and a police officer, according to a statement from the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office. She was sentenced by Middlesex Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman at a hearing today in Woburn.

In May 2009, Harvard and Cambridge, Massachusetts, police went to the Kirkland House dormitory after reports of gunshots, according to the District Attorney’s office. Justin Cosby, 21, of Cambridge, had run from the dorm to a nearby street where he collapsed from a gunshot wound to the abdomen, according to prosecutors. He was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead the next day.

“Today, the final person bearing legal responsibility for this tragedy has now admitted their role in Justin’s murder and been held accountable,” District Attorney Gerard Leone said in the statement.

The authorities said three New York men, none of them Harvard students, had arranged to meet Cosby to rob him in connection with a drug deal. During that meeting at the dormitory, Cosby was shot.

Hid Firearm

Smith had invited one of the men, Jabrai Jordan Copney, to the dorm and provided him with her Harvard ID card to enter the building, authorities said. After the shooting, she hid the firearm that was used under a friend’s bed in another dormitory. She then fled with the men on a bus to New York. When she returned to Harvard the next day, she was questioned by the police and lied to them about her ID, prosecutors said.

John Osler, Smith’s lawyer, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on today’s sentencing.

Smith was suspended by Harvard and wasn’t allowed to graduate. Her full sentence was three years and one day in prison and two years of probation.

Copney, 20, was charged with first degree murder in Middlesex Superior Court, found guilty after a jury trial and sentenced to life in prison. The other men were also arrested and charged.

--With assistance from Janelle Lawrence in Boston. Editors: Mary Romano, Michael Hytha

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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