BOSTON (WPRI) – The judge in the case against a Providence man accused of kidnapping and murdering a Boston woman has set a tentative trial date for early 2022, but that could move if federal prosecutors decide to pursue the death penalty.
In a hearing Thursday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Dennis Saylor set Feb. 28 for the trial of Louis Coleman. In agreeing to the date Dennis Hoose, one of Coleman’s court-appointed attorneys, said “all bets are off” if the government decided to make it a capital case.
Judge Saylor said he “would be somewhat surprised if the case went capital.”
Federal prosecutors have to notify the court if they are pursuing the death penalty because it triggers a far more complicated and time-consuming process. They essentially involve two different trials, where a jury must first consider whether a defendant is guilty of the crime itself, then separately determine if the government has proved the aggravating circumstances that would support the punishment of death.
A decision from the government is still pending.
Coleman is charged with “kidnapping resulting in death” – which carries a potential death sentence – in the 2019 slaying of Jassy Correia.
Correia was celebrating her 23rd birthday at a Boston nightclub when prosecutors say Coleman abducted her outside the club and brought her to his Providence apartment.
Surveillance video showed Coleman carrying “a body with long hair and orange pants” that was “naked from the waist up” into his apartment building at 95 Chestnut St., according to a federal complaint.
Coleman was later seen leaving the building with a suitcase and was eventually captured in Delaware with Correia’s body in the trunk of his car.
The case is being heard at federal court in Boston.
Saylor also cautioned the trial could be further delayed depending on where things stand with the pandemic.
“We have a year and a half of cases stacked up we need to slowly work through,” he told the parties.
Saylor blocked off five weeks for the length of the trial.