Atmosphere – “Kanye West”
Once upon a time, about 10 years ago, it seemed plausible that Kanye West could…
In 2001, McKinley Phipps, Jr., better known as Mac of No Limit Records, was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter. Mac’s fate was sealed when witness Nathaniel Tillison took the stand and told a jury that he looked the rapper “dead in his eyes” and watched him shoot and kill a man at a 2000 concert at Club Mercedes in Sidell, LA.
In 2014, The Medill Justice Project, Louisiana State University and The Lens studied Mac’s case and concluded that he may have been wrongfully convicted of the crime. The study found that there was another shooter; several witnesses who doubt that Tillison saw the shooting; several witnesses who said that the rapper did not fire any shots and a principal eyewitness who, in 2014, signed an affidavit that recanted her testimony that she saw the MC commit the shooting.
The Huffington Post released a report this week that says that jurors at the 2001 trial did not get the full story and vital evidence was not given to Phipps’ defense attorney. The report claims that the jury “never heard the testimony of Jerry Price, who says Tillison [the key witness in the case] was outside Club Mercedes in Slidell, where the concert took place, and couldn’t have seen the shooting.”
Mac’s new lawyer Buddy Spell says that prosecutors did not tell Phipps’ previous lawyer about Price’s testimony, even though they were legally obligated to do so. Spell told St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Warren Montgomery that the evidence was wrongly withheld from the rapper’s trial lawyers. Montgomery told Spell that Price’s story was “investigated and found without merit.”
However, Price filed a sworn affidavit claiming that he had not spoken to police or the DA’s office since the original investigation. “No assistant district attorney, investigator or other representative of the office of District Attorney Warren Montgomery has visited or contacted me,” the affidavit states.
Spell and his team of lawyers handed Assistant District Attorney Colin Sims Price’s account in Aug. 2015 and later the team discussed the evidence with District Attorney Montgomery. In a March 11 e-mail to Huffington Post, Montgomery said that he reviewed the case and there was “nothing new for me to look into.”
Yulon James, another eyewitness who testified against Mac, told HuffPost that prosecutors threatened her with jail time if she didn’t give false testimony at the trial.
“They stalked my house, they stalked my job and they stalked my family,” she said. “The DA came over to my parents’ house and told me I would have my baby in prison if I didn’t testify.”
Price tells a similar story of intimidation by St. Tammany police. While in jail on a parole violation, detectives allegedly attempted to get Price to sign a pre-typed affidavit. “[Detectives] came to the jail and tried to get me to sign an affidavit that was typed up,” he said. “I remember the affidavit saying something like, ‘I Jerry Price witnessed a murder by Mac.’ I told the detectives that I was not signing that typed-up affidavit.”
Spell is fighting for an appeal and will argue that his client should be freed or given a new trial based on the prosecution’s failure to give the defense Jerry Price’s full testimony in 2001. Mac has served 16 years of his 30-year sentence.
Price’s full affidavit can be read here.
In Feb. 2015, Mac spoke with XXL from the Elyan Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, Louisiana and admitted he has maintained confidence that the truth regarding the events of that fateful night would eventually come out.
“I’ve always seen a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “When you know something, it can be hard to get people to see what you know. I’ve had my moments where I’ve been discouraged. I’ve felt things are not happening as swiftly as possible. Wavering, faltering—that’s gonna happen. But my confidence is always there. That’s what keeps me sane in here.”