By Carl Hessler Jr., The Mercury
NORRISTOWN >> A Hatfield Township man pleaded not guilty to charges he killed another man during a house party in July and he will take his case to a jury in several months.
Derrick Jason Cosby, 43, of the 2400 block of East Orvilla Road, waived his arraignment in Montgomery County Court on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to charges of voluntary manslaughter and possessing an instrument of crime in connection with the 11:45 p.m. July 22, 2017, shooting death of Jeremy Chasteen, 31, during a party at Cosby’s home.
Judge Todd D. Eisenberg said Cosby’s trial will begin Feb. 27 with jury selection.
If he’s convicted of the charges at trial, Cosby faces a possible maximum sentence of 12 ½ to 25 years in prison.
Wearing a dark suit, Cosby did not comment as he entered the courtroom with a group of supporters.
But Cosby’s lawyer, Martin P. Mullaney, hinted at a self-defense trial strategy.
“By waiving his arraignment he’s acknowledging the charges against him but he entered a plea of not guilty because he is not guilty,” Mullaney said after the brief hearing. “It’s a basic self-defense defense where a man has a right to defend his home and he has a right to defend the guests that are in his home, and that’s what Mr. Cosby did in this case.”
But county Assistant District Attorney Richard H. Bradbury Jr. alleged the fatal shooting of Chasteen was not legally justified.
“The allegation essentially is that the defendant shot and killed the victim under circumstances where he believed he had the legal right to do so but was legally incorrect,” said Bradbury, explaining the nature of the voluntary manslaughter charge.
Cosby remains free on 10 percent of $75,000 bail, which was posted shortly after his arrest in early August, with conditions that he have no contact with the victim’s family or possess a weapon.