James Larry Cosby was found guilty of capital murder Wednesday in the slaying of his daughter and her girlfriend.
Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson, both 24, were found dead near a dumpster outside Fisherman’s Cove Food Mart in Port Bolivar on March 7, 2014.
Investigators did not determine a motive for the gruesome killing of the couple, who lived in a Houston home with Jackson’s young daughter, James Cosby and his grandmother. Nor did they produce a murder weapon. However, Assistant District Attorney Bill Reed, who is the felony division chief, asked jurors to use common sense in their deliberations.
“Take all the pieces, every circumstance, and put it together,” Reed said.
Cosby was struck five times with a sharp-edged object, causing her skull to fracture and split. Her throat showed signs of choking, according to the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office. Jackson was also choked and died instantly from a gunshot wound delivered at very close range, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Galveston County Sheriff’s Office investigators found Britney Cosby’s blood on the carpet in her father’s bedroom and a silver Kia Sorrento, an SUV the women had bought days before their deaths. Investigators also found a bullet fragment in the vehicle.
During the trial, an FBI cellphone analyst testified to tracking James Cosby’s phone from Houston to the Bolivar Peninsula and back to The Ritz, a strip club where the women’s vehicle was found about a month after their death.
Surveillance video on the Galveston-Bolivar ferry showed a silver SUV crossing the night before the women were found, and two witnesses testified to seeing an African-American man driving the vehicle — although neither could pick Cosby from a lineup with more than 50 percent certainty.
Cosby’s girlfriend, Kimberly Pierce, testified to picking him up from a Whataburger restaurant near the strip club the night before the women’s bodies were found. Shortly after, Cosby used his cellphone to call Houston police to report Pierce’s ex-boyfriend was trying to run them off a road, she said. Cosby identified himself on a recorded call to a police dispatcher.
Authorities found the SUV about a month later in April 2014, when the owner of the strip club had it towed to a Houston lot.
Cosby maintained his innocence throughout the investigation. In closing arguments, Cosby’s defense attorneys said the case presented too much doubt to convict their client of capital murder.
“There are six different puzzles they’re trying to push together in this case,” attorney Kyle Verret said.
Prosecutors did not present evidence to show where Jackson was killed and Cosby voluntarily spoke with investigators for almost six hours, but never admitted to the crime, Verret said.
There is no evidence of a murder weapon nor that the women were killed in the same criminal transaction, a requirement to convict a defendant of capital murder, attorney Greg Russell said.
“There’s zero evidence of a capital murder here,” Russell said. “Zero.”
Assistant District Attorney Paul Love told the jurors they would not be able to determine why Cosby murdered his daughter and her girlfriend, but said he boxed himself into a corner during the investigation.
“The tragedy may have ended in Bolivar, but the justice starts today,” Love said.
After several hours of deliberating, the jury returned the guilty verdict.
Cosby will be sentenced to life in prison without parole. A formal sentencing in which family members will be allowed the opportunity to give victim statements to Cosby is scheduled for 9 a.m. in the 212th State District Court.