New Bedford Murderer Sentenced After Mistrial
NEW BEDFORD — After a previous mistrial, a Pawtucket man has been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for a 2014 murder in New Bedford.
The Bristol County District Attorney's Office said 44-year-old Sayyid Coggins was sentenced on Monday morning after being convicted last week in the "brutal" killing of 29-year-old Justin Downey.
Downey died of suffocation in the early morning hours on April 15, 2014 after Coggins beat him and bound and gagged him, wedging his body between the bed and the wall in his 55 Rounds St. apartment.
After killing Downey, Coggins stole several items from his room, including marijuana plants and a watch, before setting it on fire.
Firefighters found Downey's body in his bedroom buried beneath the debris.
Coggins was convicted of first degree murder and arson after a seven-day trial, according to the D.A.'s office.
He had previously gone to trial on the same charges in 2016, but the D.A.'s office said it ended in a mistrial after a juror lied to the court and refused to take part in deliberations.
According to the D.A.'s office, Downey grew up in Fairhaven and inherited more than $100,000 from his grandparents in the months leading up to his death.
The victim used some of that money to try to grow marijuana upstairs in his rented house in New Bedford in a partnership with Coggins, who was a family friend of many years.
But after the pair discovered the plants weren't ready for sale, they came up with an alternate plan: Downey gave Coggins $15,000 to buy drugs to resell in smaller amounts for a profit.
However, the D.A.'s office said that Coggins instead spent a lot of the money gambling at Twin Rivers Casino.
The two had fallen out over the cash when the murder took place.
Downey had sustained a fractured skull, cuts and bruises to his face and head, and a broken nose in the attack.
Blood from his broken nose, coupled with a cloth gag in his mouth, smothered him in what the D.A.'s office described as "a horrible death."
Coggins was tracked to Stone Mountain, Georgia, where he was arrested on April 24th.
“I want to thank the jury for holding the defendant accountable for this brutal murder," said Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III.
"The facts of the case are extremely disturbing and were compounded by the defendant’s flight to Georgia to avoid prosecution."
Quinn went on to commend prosecutors for persevering through two trials.
"The family of the victim has been through a difficult ordeal," he added.
"I hope they can find some solace in the fact that the defendant stands convicted by the jury.”