Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Boston Area College Student In Trouble After Murder On Harvard University Campus

Last week, I posted a blog about a group of do-it-yourself sleuths who tried to solve the murder mystery of fallen 21-year-old Justin C. (hereinafter, the “Deceased”) at Harvard University. The result? The investigators they hired ended up arrested instead. That posting, by the way, can be found here. Meantime, the professionals were busy at work trying to solve the murder mystery that had come to Cambridge. The police arrested Jabrai C., 20, of New York, (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) for the crime. The Defendant and his lawyer have answered “Not Guilty” to charges of murder, accessory after the fact to murder and Massachusetts possession of a firearm.

The Deceased had been shot in the basement common room in a dormitory of the Cambridge campus. It has been determined that multiple shots were fired at the scene and that there were individuals aside from the Defendant and Deceased, who were present and involved in the shooting.

The Defendant, a New York songwriter, turned himself in to the Cambridge Police, according to the District Attorney’s office of Middlesex County, and will be held without bail until his July 15th hearing. However, the DA has also announced that two female Harvard students are linked to the incident. It is suspected that they allowed those involved in the murder to gain entry to Kirkland House.

Leone declined to comment on what if any charges might be pressed against the two Harvard students, but they both were asked to leave campus and are not be allowed to graduate this month. One of the two women is Chanequa C. (hereinafter, the “Accused”)

“This is a highly educated, independent young woman who has literally been cared for since she was a teenager by Harvard-and now they have terminated her right to be on campus,” the Accused lawyer has complained. “There is no justification for it. She may have known the people involved, but you know, it’s not guilt by association in this country.”

According to the Commonwealth, three individuals confronted the Deceased in the dormitory. It is believed that The Deceased may have been selling marijuana to Harvard students which may have led to his being shot in the abdomen and killed.

Apparently, a pound of marijuana and approximately $1,000 was found on or near the Deceased. The District Attorney has also indicated that the Defendant had planned to scam the Deceased, who was believed to be selling drugs to Harvard students, for the drugs and money.

After the incident, the Defendant is believed to have taken a cab to South Station with the two individuals and left the city for New York. As the Defendant fled, the Deceased, shot, stumbled down Dunster Street where he was found by witnesses and eventually collapsed on the sidewalk asking for water.

Police later recovered a weapon that matched a description given by one witness of the weapon allegedly carried by the Defendant as he left the dormitory crime scene, Kirkland, that day.

Police officials are not committing themselves to whether the Defendant was on the campus because of the Deceased’s alleged drug transactions. The Commonwealth, however, did indicate that the Defendant’s presence appears to have been connected to his relationship with a long-time girlfriend-a Harvard senior he has visited frequently over the past two years.

Now, given the fact that the Accused is being banned from campus and refused her diploma, that she was said girlfriend.

…And you would be wrong.

The Defendant was not a student at Harvard University, which immediately produced the question of how he had gained entry to the dormitory. The House Master indicates that the entryway is only accessible by swiping a Harvard identification card. And so came the suspicion that the Defendant may have known someone at Harvard. Finally, it was determined that that “someone” was the other female student, Brittany S. (hereinafter, the “Girlfriend”).

So….what is the alleged involvement of the Accused?

Well, it would seem, the Accused is friendly with the Girlfriend. While the Girlfriend lived in another dorm, the Accused lived in the dorm in which the murder occurred.
The Girlfriend has not publically challenged Harvard’s decision, but the Accused has. The Accused has “gone public” with what she considers unfair treatment, alleging that the University’s decision was motivated by bias. While she is not making an “overall claim of racism,” she recently told The Boston Globe, but “I do believe I am being singled out…I’m black and I’m poor and I’m from New York and I walk a certain way and I keep my clothes a certain way,” she said. “It’s something that labels me as different from everyone else.”

University spokespeople have also declined to comment on the Accused’s status, citing a policy not to comment on any disciplinary action involving individual students.

Yes, particularly in this case, that might prove somewhat embarrassing…

Attorney Sam’s Take:

“I don’t understand something”, you scratch your head and begin. “You mean she is being refused her graduation simply because she knew someone who knew the (yet to be proven guilty) alleged shooter and because she lived in the dorm in which the murder took place in a common area?”

Yep.

“And there is nothing else linking her to the murder…I mean like a showing like she was at least the one who let the Defendant into the dorm?”

Doesn’t seem to be.

“But…does either the Defendant or the Girlfriend…or even the allegedly drug dealing Deceased…know anyone else in the dorm?”

Who knows?

“Well…that doesn’t exactly seem fair…”

How about that?

You see, as I have told you before, when it comes to the Criminal Justice System, one’s sense of fairness and logic does not always make its way to the courtroom. Of course, it is not the court that is depriving either the Girlfriend or the Accused of anything – it is Harvard University.

While Harvard University is neither a part of law enforcement nor the Judicial Branch, it does rule…Harvard University. True, most universities have their own rules that recognize some semblance of Due Process of Law…but those rules can vary.

“Well, Sam”, you say, “The college does have a responsibility to keep its students safe, doesn’t it?”

It sure does. However, as the summer and its graduations are here, those students are scheduled to be leaving. Further, as she was about to graduate, the Accused (along with whatever threat she is presumed to present) would be leaving the campus anyway. Finally, there is no indication that either law enforcement or the University went through lists of friends of the Defendant, Deceased, or even the Girlfriend, and threw out anyone one of them who lived at the crime scene.

So, the question remains…who is the University protecting? Its students….or a zealously protected reputation of “no tolerance” for murder and drug dealing? Oh, I’m sorry. No apparent connection between the Accused and the Deceased or drugs, so scratch that part of any such reputation.

Ok, so now we come down to the question of what this story has to do with you.

That depends. Are you a student? Are you on faculty of an academic institution? Do you have any kids or friends who may be attending college?

If so, beware. Often, universities, albeit bastions of higher learning, do not truly concern themselves with what court’s are supposed to determine. It is quite common for a defendant/student accused of a crime, particularly when it occurs on campus, to be disciplined, even potentially expelled, long before there is any resulting finding of guilt by the legal process. We can debate the balance between protecting the school’s student body and their Constitutional Rights…but that is a debate for another time.

Feel free to schedule me for a debate on that elsewhere.

The point here is that this is yet another example wherein being implicated in a crime, even if that implication is tangential, and even if it is discarded by law enforcement or the courts, can effect you for the rest of your life.

Therefore, the same old advice stands. If you even suspect that you may be so implicated, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to advise you and act on your behalf immediately.

It is much easier to prevent an unfair result than to try to reverse it.

NOTE TO READERS: There was no daily blog posted by me on Friday. Unfortunately, computer issues and an extremely busy court schedule prevented is. Regrets are offered.

The full articles of this story can be found at http://www.wickedlocal.com/salem/news/x313661806/Murder-victim-had-dropped-out-of-Salem-State , http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=528478 , http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aQ2wyEYWoYUY&refer=home and http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=528276

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