Def Squad rapper Keith Murray has been branded a fugitive in Connecticut
after he failed to turn himself in Thursday to begin a prison sentence
on a 1996 assault conviction.
Murray, 26, was scheduled to appear at the New Britain, Conn., courthouse to
begin his three-year sentence for assaulting a teen-age fan with a bar
stool in 1995. On Monday (Sept. 28), the rapper's attorney said he did not
know why his client failed to appear.
"I have not had any direct contact with Keith in well over a month, maybe
two months," said Anthony DiPentima. "I've only had communication to him
through his handlers."
Murray's absence could have "an adverse effect" on his sentence, DiPentima
said. The conviction for the third-degree assault of David Hughes landed
Murray a five-year jail term, which would have been suspended after three
years, with three years' probation.
New Britain police confirmed Monday that a failure-to-appear warrant was in
effect and that Murray was still at large. "He hasn't been picked up yet,"
said a Detective Gannon, who declined to give his first name. Gannon did
not yet know whether state officials have decided to extradite the
Whether Murray now intends to turn himself in is unclear. "I have no idea,"
DiPentima said when asked if Murray plans to report to authorities. "I
sure hope so." Representatives from Jive Records, the label for which
could not be reached for comment.
Murray most recently hit the charts as part of hip-hop's Def Squad with
Erick Sermon (ex-EPMD) and Redman. El Nino, the trio's
critically acclaimed debut album, which included songs such as
HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Def_Squad/Check_N'_Me_Out.ram"> "Check N' Me Out"
"Check N' Me
Out"(RealAudio excerpt), opened at #2 on the Billboard
200 albums chart in July. The band also hit concert stages this summer with
rappers DMX and Onyx as part of the Survival of the Illest tour.
Murray was scheduled to appear before Judge Frank Iannotti at 10 a.m.
Thursday. When he was still a no-show three hours later, the arrest
warrant was ordered.
"The judge imposed a new, $2 million bail," the Hartford Courant
quoted prosecutor Paul Rotiroti as saying.
DiPentima said he was unaware of the new bond for failing to appear.
"There'd be no reason to post bail," he said. "He was supposed to show up
to turn himself in to start his sentence. All he has to do is show up and
begin his sentence. If the state decides that they're going to prosecute
him for not showing up last Thursday, that's a completely separate matter."
Murray's conviction stemmed from a May 24, 1995, bar brawl at a New Britain
nightclub called The Sting. The rapper, on tour to support his solo debut,
The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World (1994), struck the
then-16-year-old Hughes over the head with a metal bar stool. Court
documents say Hughes was attempting to break up a fight between Murray and
Hughes' brother Latif, a local promoter, according to the New Britain
The assault reportedly left the teen-ager, who had gone to the club to see
Murray perform, with a 12-inch scar across his face, crippling headaches and
The rapper was sentenced in January 1997 to five years' jail time, which
DiPentima sought to reduce in light of Murray's participation in
counseling. On Aug. 5, Connecticut Superior Court Judge
James Graham refused the request for a reduced sentence, prompting the
rapper to appeal for sentence certification from the Connecticut Supreme
Court. The court certified his sentence and Murray was ordered to turn
himself in to begin his prison term.
Murray first appeared on the hip-hop scene with a few raspy-but-smooth
rhymes on Sermon's 1993 solo debut, No Pressure. The Most
Beautifullest Thing in This World first featured Murray with his future
Def Squad bandmates on "How's That."
In 1996, Murray released Enigma, which also featured appearances
from Sermon and Redman. The trio united once again in 1997 to record a
version of the Sugarhill Gang's classic "Rapper's Delight" for the In
Tha Beginning ... There Was Rap compilation of cover songs.
Earlier this year, a representative for Jive Records said Murray is
busy working on three solo albums.