A federal jury on Wednesday found Louis Coleman guilty of kidnapping young Massachusetts mother Jassy Correia outside a Boston nightclub in 2019, leading to her death.
The federal jury was into its first full day of deliberations of the charge, kidnapping leading to death, on Tuesday, after prosecutors and Louis Coleman's defense attorneys delivered closing statements.
"Coleman was found guilty by a jury of tricking Jassy into believing he was going to give her a ride back to her friend's apartment and instead holding her against her will, sexually assaulting her, strangling her to death and embarking on a massive effort to cover up his crimes," Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy said afterward.
Coleman will spend life in prison, though the sentence will be imposed at a hearing in September.
Correia's father, Joaquim Correia, was one of many family members who attended the entirety of the three-week trial. He said after the trial that he'd vowed to see it through because he'd brought Jassy to the U.S. as a young girl.
The verdict, he said through a translator, "proved once again that this individual is a criminal. He doesn't have a right to be in society. This is satisfactory to me."
Prosecutors had argued that Coleman sexually assaulted and strangled Correia -- who'd been out celebrating her birthday -- before stashing her body in a suitcase in his trunk, where it was found four days later when he was stopped on Interstate 95 in Delaware.
They presented graphic evidence against Coleman, including video of him carrying Correia piggyback to his car after she was pushed out of an Uber that wasn't hers into the cold night. Prosecutors said Coleman took Correia to his apartment in Providence, Rhode Island, where he stuffed her body in a suitcase.
"She never arrived home, and the reason why is this defendant and his actions," Assistant U.S. Attorney Elianna Nuzum said during the trial. "He sexually assaulted her, strangled her to death and transported her across state lines. Then he tried to cover it up."
Coleman had pleaded not guilty to kidnapping Correia. His attorneys said the woman had attacked him and died in the car during the fight, but that Correia went with him willingly.
"What happened in that car was not a planned event and not initiated by Louis Coleman," his defense attorney, David Hoose, said in court during the trial.
Coleman was charged with kidnapping leading to death because federal law only provides murder charges in certain cases, prosecutors said.
One juror was dismissed Wednesday after violating instructions regarding printing information related to the case.
The trial was originally scheduled to start in February but was pushed to May because of the pandemic.