The second trial of New Orleans rapper C-Murder began Monday (Aug. 3) with the tentative selection of 11 jurors.
The Times-Picayune reports that the proceedings began when the No Limit Records rapper (born Corey Miller arrived in court in handcuffs.
Miller’s attorney, Ron Rakosky, referenced remarks made by the late Sheriff Harry Lee to resurrect his request to have his client’s trial moved outside of Jefferson Parish.
Before his death in 2007, Lee labeled Miller as a “gangster” who was “living out his lyrics.” As a result, Rakosky maintained that Miller’s right to a fair trial was “poisoned from the day of his arrest.”
“We’re talking about an extraordinary, an extraordinary, amount of coverage,” Rakosky said. “This man will never get a fair trial.”
Jefferson Parish District Attorney David Wolff countered Rakosky by saying the defense attorney’s claims were the same arguments he made when Rakosky’s previous change of venue request was denied in April.
The D.A.’s argument registered with 24th Judicial District Court Judge Hans Liljeberg, who denied Rakosky’s new change of venue request.
Jury selection for the case commenced Monday morning as a panel of 39 potential jurors was sworn in and questioned about their knowledge of Miller and whether pre-trial publicity has hurt their chance to fairly assess the facts surrounding the case. The tentative selection of the 11 jurors comes seven years after the death of 16-year-old Steve Thomas.
According to reports, Thomas died Jan. 12, 2002 after he was shot through his heart while being stomped by a group of men during a rap concert at the now-closed Platinum Club. Miller, who has denied killing Thomas, is charged with second-degree murder.
Although a jury convicted him of the charge in 2003, then-Judge Martha Sassone overturned the 38-year-old rapper’s conviction a year later after agreeing with defense attorneys that prosecutors improperly withheld criminal background information on three key eyewitnesses.
If convicted, Miller faces a mandatory life sentence in prison for the 2002 incident. In addition to the Thomas case, the rapper also faces a sentencing hearing on August 25 for his role in an Aug. 14, 2001, incident at Club Raggs, a bar located in Baton Rouge. In May, Miller pleaded no contest to two counts of attempted second-degree murder in connection with the incident.
As a result, the plea deal calls for the rapper to serve a 10-year sentence, minus the time he has already been behind bars and under house arrest. Prosecutors in the case hope to use a surveillance video taken of the incident at Club Raggs incident in his Jefferson Parish trial, as well as lyrics from Miller’s song “What’s the Reason.”
According to prosecutors, the tune, which is featured on Miller’s 2002 album Tru Dawgs, includes a description of both cases. Rakosky disputed prosecutors’ claims as he argued that there was no evidence of when the song was written or produced.