C-Murder's Second-Degree Murder Conviction Overturned

Louisiana Supreme Court orders new trial; rapper could be free as soon as Wednesday.

C-Murder could be out of jail as early as Wednesday after the Louisiana Supreme Court overturned his second-degree murder conviction and ordered a new trial on Friday.

The rapper (born Corey Miller), brother of Master P, has been facing life in prison without parole in the wake of his 2003 conviction in connection with the killing of 16-year-old Steve Thomas outside the now-shuttered Platinum Club in Harvey, Louisiana, in January 2002 (see "C-Murder Faces Second-Degree Murder Charge In Teen's Slaying").

The high court agreed with the lower court judge, who said the jury should have been told about the criminal backgrounds of witnesses who testified against Miller (who renounced his longtime stage name last year and took the alias C-Miller), according to Miller's attorney, Ron Rakosky. The district attorney's office has not decided whether it would retry Miller, who still faces an attempted-murder charge in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he is accused of shooting a club owner and patron in August 2001 (see "Rapper C-Murder Indicted On Attempted Second-Degree Murder Charges").

"In my business you're always surprised when you win, but it's absolutely the correct ruling," Rakosky said. "The courts don't always do the right thing, but they did in this case. He is no longer a convicted felon and he goes back to square one, but the fact remains he spent four years in jail for a crime he didn't commit."

Rakosky said he has been notified of a hearing on Wednesday morning at which the district attorney will announce whether Miller will be retried or not. At that point Miller could be released on bail if the decision is to retry him for the shooting.

Miller was convicted of second-degree murder on September 30, 2003 (see "C-Murder Found Guilty Of Second-Degree Murder, Receives Life Sentence"), but months later, Judge Martha Sassone ordered a new trial largely on grounds that the prosecutors failed to tell the rapper's attorneys about the criminal background of witnesses who testified that Miller was the gunman (see "C-Murder Granted New Trial In Second-Degree Murder Case"). An appeals court reversed Sassone's decision last year, saying that even without the witness accounts, other evidence pointed to Miller's guilt (see "C-Murder Denied A Retrial By State Court Of Appeals").

But the high court reinstated Sassone's ruling, saying her decision granting Miller a new trial "reflects a painstaking review of the evidence presented at trial and in the course of 13 post-conviction hearings, during which [she] became convinced that one of the state's principal witnesses was 'someone who is accustomed to lying'," according to a New Orleans Times-Picayune report.

The ruling found that had defense attorneys known that information about the prosecutors' witnesses, they could have attacked their credibility before the jury, possibly leading to a different outcome in the trial.

"[From] the very beginning of this case, there has never been any credible evidence that Corey Miller was guilty of this crime, and four years later I don't know of a single shred of evidence that implicates him with this crime," Rakosky told the paper.

Rakosky told MTV News that when he broke the news to Miller that his conviction had been overturned, the rapper was "ecstatic. He was very happy. It's something I had told him all along in my opinion should be the result."

[This story was originally published at 7:48 a.m. ET on 03.13.2006]