Prosecutors Accused Of Hiding Evidence That Could Free Rapper
ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La.&#one hundred sixty;–&#one hundred sixty;Nathaniel Tillison informed a jury he seemed Nineteen Nineties rap star McKinley “Mac” Phipps “lifeless in his eyes” and watched him pull the set off, killing a person at a live performance in 2000.
Based partly on Tillison’s eyewitness testimony, Phipps was convicted of manslaughter and is serving a 30-yr sentence.&#one hundred sixty;
But jurors at Phipps’ 2001 trial did not get the complete story. They by no means heard the testimony of Jerry Price, who says Tillison was outdoors Club Mercedes in Slidell, the place the live performance passed off, and could not have seen the capturing.&#one hundred sixty;
Attorney Buddy Spell, who now represents Phipps, stated prosecutors did not inform Phipps’ protection legal professionals about Price, although it was their authorized obligation to take action. That failure, Spell stated, casts doubt over the complete case.
After unsuccessfully making an attempt to influence St.&#one hundred sixty;Tammany Parish District Attorney Warren Montgomery for months that Phipps was wrongly convicted, Spell stated he’ll file authorized motions for submit-conviction aid, together with a brand new trial.
Spell notified the DA’s workplace six months in the past that proof was wrongly withheld from Phipps’ trial legal professionals. Montgomery stated Price’s story was subsequently “investigated and located with out benefit.”
Price, nevertheless, swore he hasn’t spoken to police or the DA’s workplace because the unique investigation greater than 15 years in the past.&#one hundred sixty;
“No assistant district lawyer, investigator or different consultant of the workplace of District Attorney Warren Montgomery has visited or contacted” me, Price stated in a sworn affidavit.&#one hundred sixty;
Spell’s agency took over Phipps’ protection &#one hundred sixty;revealed that prosecution witnesses had stepped ahead to say that they had been bullied into giving false testimony. Among these quoted in HuffPost’s article was Price.
Price did not testify at Phipps’ trial, Spell stated, and his identify doesn’t seem in case paperwork that prosecutors handed over to protection attorneys.
Price was no stranger to police and prosecutors. Soon after the membership capturing, he was arrested on an unrelated probation violation.&#one hundred sixty;
Price’s story of what occurred the night time of the killing contradicts the prosecution narrative. He stated that within the commotion that adopted the gunshot, he noticed Tillison run into the membership and yell, “What occurred to my cousin?”
Tillison, Price and the sufferer, Barron Victor Jr., are all associated.
Price stated he was charged with obstruction of justice as a result of he did not succumb to prosecutors’ strain to finger Phipps because the shooter. &#one hundred sixty;
It’s unclear if Price’s story would have swayed the jury. Nevertheless, prosecutors are obligated to share exculpatory proof — something suggesting innocence — with protection legal professionals previous to trial.&#one hundred sixty;
Montgomery, who ran for election in 2014 on a platform of reform, informed HuffPost in an e mail on March eleven that he had reviewed Phipps’ case and that there was&#one hundred sixty;”nothing new for me to look into.”
Phipps’&#one hundred sixty;authorized staff, together with Spell, his&#one hundred sixty;, stated they informed the DA’s workplace in August about Price’s assertion. They stated they have been shocked by Montgomery’s feedback rejecting the proof.
“I hand delivered it,” Buddy Spell advised HuffPost. He stated the &#one hundred sixty;and have been delivered that day.
“I put it in [Assistant District Attorney] Collin Sims’ arms whereas Warren Montgomery was within the workplace with us. Warren Montgomery additionally met that day with Annie and Tara and I in Collin’s workplace, and we later continued discussions concerning the proof with the district lawyer’s workplace.”
Montgomery solely acknowledged the existence of the paperwork after the protection attorneys offered them to The Huffington Post.&#one hundred sixty;
Phipps was a 22-yr-previous rising star on the time of the capturing. He’d been signed to Master K’s No Limit Records, together with Snoop Dogg and Mystikal, and had lately launched the CD “World War III,” that includes cuts corresponding to “Assassin Nation,” “Genocide” and “War Party.”
&#one hundred sixty;His rising fame apparently made him a beautiful goal to prosecutors, who would later quote from his lyrics,&#one hundred sixty;&#one hundred sixty;for the all-white jury.
One of the 2 eyewitnesses to testify towards Phipps, Yulon James, informed HuffPost final yr that prosecutors threatened her with jail time if she did not give false testimony at trial.
“They stalked my home, they stalked my job they usually stalked my household,” stated James. “The DA came to visit to my mother and father’ home and advised me I would have my child in jail if I did not testify.”&#one hundred sixty;
James, a nursing scholar on the time of the capturing, stated she actually&#one hundred sixty;”did not see something” on the capturing scene, although she recognized Phipps because the killer throughout his trial.&#one hundred sixty;
Price’s model of the capturing seems in line with the story of a lady who then labored as a barmaid at Club Mercedes.&#one hundred sixty;Joselyn Baptiste. Baptiste, who did not testify at Phipps’ trial, informed HuffPost in 2015 that she heard gunshots and ducked.
“I stayed down and when I seemed up, I noticed a man laying on the ground close to the top of the bar,” Baptiste stated. “The man on the ground had acquired shot. There was a person and a lady with him, however who they was I do not know.
“Then an individual are available who was yelling, was throwing chairs. He was cussing as a result of his cousin was on the ground.”
In the times after the capturing, whereas behind bars on a parole violation, Price stated St. Tammany Sheriff’s detectives tried to drive him to signal a pre-typed affidavit implicating Phipps.
The detectives “got here to the jail and tried to get me to signal an affidavit that was typed up,” Price stated in his first affidavit. “I keep in mind the affidavit saying one thing like, ‘I Jerry Price witnessed a homicide by Mac.’ I advised the detectives that I was not signing that typed-up affidavit.”
Price stated the identical detectives returned two days later and once more pressed him to say he noticed Phipps shoot his cousin.
“I advised the detectives I wasn’t doing it,” Price stated within the assertion. “That was when the detectives advised me that I was being charged with obstruction to first-diploma homicide.”
Court paperwork present the obstruction cost was filed towards Price in March 2000. The cost was refused by the district lawyer’s workplace after Price filed a movement for a speedy trial, successfully calling the prosecution’s bluff.
Price stated the detectives continued to interrogate and harass him and introduced him to the courthouse throughout a number of of Phipps’ hearings. During a type of interrogations, he recalled, the district lawyer who was prosecuting Phipps joined the detectives.
“I advised the detectives that in the event that they put me on the stand in courtroom that I would inform the reality,” Price stated in a press release. “The district lawyer requested me what the reality was. I informed the district lawyer that I did not see Mac shoot anybody and neither did Nate.”&#one hundred sixty;
Phipps’ legal professionals stated the proof they’ve collected in current months must be greater than sufficient to show what the musician has been saying for 15 years — that he is harmless and was the sufferer of a runaway prosecution.
Montgomery hasn’t responded to HuffPost’s requests for elaboration on his workplace’s investigation of the brand new proof.
Spell stated he is clueless as to how the district lawyer’s workplace might low cost Price’s assertion with out interviewing him.
“It happens to me that any viable investigation into newly disclosed information would essentially contain interviewing the person chargeable for the disclosure,” Spell stated.
Spell stated the DA’s inaction forces him to pursue appeals that may argue that Phipps, who has served sixteen years of his 30-yr sentence, ought to be freed or given a brand new trial due to the prosecution’s authorized bungling.
“We will now commit, with out hesitation, to aggressively launch a marketing campaign to hunt full and remaining redemption for McKinley Phipps by way of submit-conviction aid,” Spell stated.
READ THE AFFIDAVIT JERRY PRICE SIGNED ON MARCH 18, 2016:
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