Nassau County Court jurors on Tuesday acquitted an 18-year-old Freeport woman of all charges stemming from the Nov. 1, 2014 killing of a 17-year-old girl who was stabbed in the back during a bloody brawl among several young women.
Jurors deliberated for about three hours before finding Jasmine Copeland not guilty of manslaughter and other charges including gang assault in the death of Abbigale Thomas, 17, Copeland’s attorney said.
“I have all along maintained that my client was innocent,” said Ikiesha Al-Shabazz of Forest Hills, Copeland’s attorney. “She had no contact with this girl. We certainly don’t want to compound the tragedy by sending the wrong person to prison.”
Prosecutors, who on Tuesday said they “respect the jury’s verdict,” had maintained in the weeklong trial that Copeland had stabbed Thomas in the back with a steak knife, causing her to “drown in her own blood.”
The stabbing was the culmination of taunts among two teenagers that continued on social media and escalated into face–to-face confrontation on a residential neighborhood in Freeport – with deadly consequences.
Prosecutors said during opening statements that Copeland and one of Thomas’ foster sisters, Nubian Middleton, had traded insults on Facebook and via text messages.
But those adolescent exchanges took a turn for the worse when, prosecutors said, Thomas, her foster sisters, Nubian Middleton and Diamonique Middleton, and the Middletons’ cousin, Miracle Nixon, walked to Copeland’s house.
Copeland and three friends, all sisters — Janelle Walker, Janae Walker, and Amanda Walker — went outside where words were exchanged, prosecutors said, and blows were traded, resulting in a brawl and the stabbing.
While jurors rejected prosecutors’ theory that Copeland stabbed Thomas, Al-Shabazz said during opening statements that her client had carried a knife to the fight, but did not use it. A key contention of the defense was that, if Copeland had used the knife, blood would have splattered on her clothes.
“It was terrible, awful and preventable,” Al-Shabazz said of the fatal stabbing.