Attorney of Rapper Whose Rap Lyrics Landed Him In Prison Says He’s ‘at the End of the Road’
Reported by Ashley Naples
The family of McKinley “Mac” Phipps scheduled a press conference for 3:30 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday at the St. Tammany Parish Justice Center in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. Prominent defense attorney Robert Shapiro, who was part of O. J. Simpson’s “Dream Team,” also plans to discuss this case on Dr. Drew Pinsky’s Los Angeles radio talk show.
Phipps (pictured), once a rising rap star who worked with Master P’s No Limit Records, was convicted of manslaughter for the Feb. 21, 2000 shooting death of 19-year-old Barron Victor Jr. at Club Mercedes in St. Tammany Parish. The lyrics to his famous song titled “Murder, Murder, Kill, Kill,” featuring rapper Mystikal, were used to convict him — despite a lack of physical evidence and a conflicting witness testimony. The prosecutor in that case, former district attorney Walter Reed, was forced to vacate his office in January because of a reputed federal grand jury investigation looking into campaign funds and side businesses.
“They ripped our family apart for no reason,” Phipps’ sister, Tiffany Phipps, said angrily. “They knew he didn’t do it and they didn’t care.”
On Wednesday, the Huffington Post released the results of a four-month analysis of McKinley Phipps’ conviction. It revealed that a crucial witness at his trial admitted to perjury and now disavows her earlier identification of Phipps as the shooter, which was made based off her fear of the prosecutor threatening her with legal action. Four additional witnesses also described threats, intimidation, or simply being overlooked by investigators.
“We knew that people were coerced, but we did not realize it was to such a degree,” Phipps’ mom, Sheila Phipps, said.
In light of the news that witnesses were pressured to implicate Phipps, the new district attorney, Warren Montgomery, announced on Wednesday, he and his office will make no effort to investigate.
“Certainly no one wants to see an innocent person remain in jail,” Montgomery said in a statement. “But there is a procedure for correcting injustices for those who feel they have been treated unfairly. That procedure is to petition the court with evidence. At that time, I will fulfill my responsibility to respond to the allegations.”
Phipps’s attorney, Remy Stams, says his client has exhausted his options with the system. “He’s basically at the end of the road,” Stams sad.
In the meantime, that star witness, Yulon James, pointed out that she fears what will happen to her for her recanting her earlier testimony, which jurors admitted was critical in securing Phipps’ conviction.
“My husband is petrified that — I have kids — you know,” James said. “What if somebody tries to retaliate, you know, because they think I set him up or did this or that? I’ve tried to do everything I can.”
In the midst of all this, Phipps, who has always affirmed his innocence, said he continues to be hopeful.
“I never lost faith that the truth would someday be brought to light,” he said Wednesday from prison. “It is my hope that these revelations [will] finally bring justice to myself, the victim’s family, my family and the countless others who have since had to suffer with living in fear of the very people sworn to protect them.”
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