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Lawyers: Murder victim’s phone used day after her disappearance

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Lawyers for the Providence man accused of kidnapping and murdering a Boston woman want federal prosecutors to hand over more evidence from the case, including records showing the victim’s criminal history.

Police say Jassy Correia, 23, was kidnapped and murdered by Louis Coleman, 32, of Providence, in February. Lawyers for Coleman said in a letter filed in Boston federal court on Tuesday that prosecutors have declined to provide Correia’s prior criminal history.

“You have already provided us with statements of witnesses who describe Ms. Correia’s prior involvement with the criminal justice system, including one arrest in Atlanta, Georgia, for an assault offense,” Coleman’s lawyers wrote. “We believe such evidence is relevant to explain and corroborate Ms. Correia’s behavior on the night of her disappearance.”

The letter also reveals police have been unable to locate Correia’s cellphone, but records indicate calls were made from the phone the day after police say she was snatched from outside a Boston nightclub and killed.

“[D]iscovery previously provided by your office indicates that Ms. Correia’s phone was in an area of Dorchester close to her family’s residence on Monday, February 25, 2019,” lawyers wrote. “Records provided by your office also show that there were some outgoing calls made from her phone on Monday, February 25, 2019.”

Correia went missing in the early morning hours of Feb. 24. Her body was found in the trunk of Coleman’s car when he was pulled over and arrested several days later in Delaware.

Prosecutors have previously said Coleman was seen leaving the Venu nightclub and getting into Coleman’s car. Video surveillance from outside Coleman’s apartment complex on Chestnut Street in Providence showed Coleman carrying a person into the building, then hours later carrying out a suitcase, which he struggled to put it in the trunk of his car.

Coleman’s lawyers also want data OnStar – an in-car assistance provider – gave to the Boston police in their efforts to locate the car, and whether facial recognition technology was used to identify Coleman, suggesting they may consider a constitutional challenge for unlawful search and seizure.

“As you know, the use of facial recognition software is a controversial technology that raises privacy and other Fourth Amendment concerns,” lawyers wrote.

The letter also shows evidence gathered by the Providence police in their investigation of the Chestnut Street apartment is now in the custody of the FBI. “Please contact us about arranging a mutually agreeable date when we can inspect these items of evidence,” they wrote.

Coleman’s lawyers also want prosecutors to provide a written statement that he has been “cleared as a suspect in any other unsolved cases in Brockton, Mass.” They provided a link to a news article about the rape and murder of two people in Brockton and Quincy in 2014.

Coleman has been held in custody since his arrest and has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces the possibility of the death sentence or life in prison.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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