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Legal Expert: Prosecutors Could Get Around Death Penalty Ban In Jassy Correia Case

BOSTON (CBS) -- Prosecutors may have found a way around Massachusetts' death penalty ban.

Louis Coleman, the Raytheon engineer accused in the death of the young Boston mother, Jassy Correia, appeared in Delaware Federal Court Monday. He waived his right to be heard on a fugitive charge there, which put him in the custody of the U.S. Marshals office, in charge of bringing him to Massachusetts.

Louis Coleman
Louis Coleman. (Photo credit: Delaware Attorney General)

Legal analyst Jennifer Roman says even though he does not face a murder charge at this point, the federal kidnapping resulting in death charge could be even more serious.

Jennifer Roman (WBZ-TV)

"In Massachusetts, we don't have the death penalty," she said. "The only way to get this particular case in Massachusetts to carry a potential death penalty sentence is to bring it to the federal courts, and that allows the prosecutors to use it as leverage against the defendant."

It could carry enough weight to bypass a long and emotionally painful trial and go straight for a plea deal, said Roman.

The case falls into federal jurisdiction because it crosses state lines: from Boston, where the two were last seen after a night at Venu night club, to his Providence home, and Delaware, where police found her body in his trunk.

Jassy Correia
Jassy Correia (R) the night she was last seen (Image credit BPD)

Security camera footage provides a detailed timeline that spans more than four days:

  • Sunday, Feb. 24, 2:15 a.m.: Correia leave Venu and gets in a car with Coleman
  • Sunday, Feb. 24, 4:25 a.m.: Coleman carries Correia into his Providence apartment
  • Tuesday, Feb. 26: He returns to his apartment with Walmart bags

"The receipt for Coleman's purchases obtained from the store that day showed that he bought three Tyvek suits," said U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling. It also showed, "duct tape, two candles, electrical tape, a mask, surgical gloves, safety goggles, an odor respirator, and bleach."

  • Wednesday, Feb. 27, 9:58 p.m.: Coleman returns to his apartment with a suitcase
  • Thursday, Feb. 28, 1:15 a.m.: He puts the suitcase in the trunk of his car. He's then arrested in Delaware that afternoon.
Jassy Correia
Jassy Correia and her daughter (Family photo)

Lelling said investigators are looking into whether Coleman could be connected to other missing person cases. They're running his DNA, and taking other steps to cast a wider net.

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