Coleman needs special lawyer if prosecutors seek death penalty in Jassy Correia case – The Boston Globe

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Coleman needs special lawyer if prosecutors seek death penalty in Jassy Correia case
Globe Staff
The federal public defender is asking a judge to approve additional legal representation because Louis Coleman has been charged under a federal law that carries a death sentence.
By John R. Ellement
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Louis D. Coleman III has been charged under a federal law that carries a death sentence.

The man accused of kidnapping Jassy Correia off a Boston street needs a lawyer specially trained in capital cases as he has been charged under a federal law that carries a death sentence.

In court papers filed in US District Court in Boston, the federal public defender, Miriam Conrad, asked a judge to approve hiring one criminal defense attorney to represent Louis D. Coleman III
, 32, for the standard part of the federal criminal case against him. But Coleman needs additional specialized legal representation, she said, because he has been charged by US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office with kidnapping resulting in a death, which calls for a life sentence — or the death penalty.

“The government has charged Mr. Coleman by complaint with a crime carrying a potential death penalty” and Coleman now needs an attorney “learned in the law applicable to capital cases,’’ Conrad wrote, quoting from the federal death penalty statute.


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No final decision has yet been made as to whether Lelling will seek the death penalty against Coleman. But if he gains the approval of his superiors in the Department of Justice in Washington to do so, the Coleman case will mark the third time a top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts has sought to impose the death penalty.

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Massachusetts has no state death penalty. But jurors in the Boston Marathon bombing trial of Dzkhokar Tsarnaev and in the prosecution of serial killer Gary Lee Sampson approved the death penalty for those defendants under federal laws. Both are pursuing appeals.

Coleman was captured Feb. 28 on Interstate 95 in Delaware driving a car containing Correia’s remains in the trunk, Lelling has said.

Correia appears to have died as a result of strangulation and blunt force trauma but was apparently not sexually assaulted, Lelling said. He declined to comment on how long Correia had been held captive and when she was killed.

Correia may have put up a fight, Lelling said at a press conference last Sunday, noting that the passenger-side windshield on Coleman’s car had cracks.


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“We don’t know yet whether those are connected to a struggle in the vehicle,” he said.

Correia, the mother of a 2-year-old girl, had gone out the night of Feb. 23 to celebrate her 23rd birthday. She disappeared early the next morning after leaving Venu, a nightclub in the Theatre District, Lelling said. Her image was captured by a security camera about 2:15 a.m. on Tremont Street, where she was approached by a man authorities say was Coleman. It appears the two did not know each other before that encounter, Lelling said.

Surveillance video shows Correia getting into Coleman’s car under her own power, Lelling said, and another video shows Coleman arriving at his Providence apartment building around 4:15 a.m. and going inside alone. He allegedly returned to the car with a blanket, then carried a limp body back inside, according to Lelling.

A wake for Correia was scheduled to be held at St. Peter Church in Dorchester Friday, and her funeral Mass to be said there at 10 a.m. Saturday. Burial will be private.

Coleman has agreed to return to Massachusetts to face the federal charges, but his arrival date was not known Friday.

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.


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