C-Murder Will Go Back To Trial, Judge Rejects Request To Throw Out Charges

 A Louisiana judge has rejected rapper C-Murder's request to dismiss a five-year-old second degree murder charge against him, sending the case back to court for a second time this June.

C-Murder (born Corey Miller) has been charged with second degree murder in the January 12, 2002 shooting of 16-year-old Steve Thomas.

The 36-year-old rapper initially requested 24th Judicial District Court Judge Martha Sassone to throw out the charge last year, arguing that prosecutors damaged the February 2002 grand jury who indicted him by bringing forward witnesses whose testimonies were unrelated to Thomas' murder.

According to local New Orleans paper The Times Picayune, at a brief hearing yesterday (Feb. 11), Judge Sassone denied the motion to suppress the indictment, along with two other motions - to suppress evidence and to suppress witness identifications of Miller.

Ron Rakosky, the attorney for Miller, has cited allegations that the prosecutors prejudiced the Jefferson Parish grand jury six years ago by presenting five witnesses who knew nothing about Thomas' murder. Those witnesses gave testimony about an August 2001 incident at Baton Rouge's Club Raggs, where Miller is accused of shooting a nightclub owner and a security officer. Rakosky also argued that the witnesses' testimony was contradictory and that prosecutors failed to share information favorable to Miller with the grand jury.

Prosecutors have defended the indictment, arguing Rakosky's claims are not grounded in the state's code of criminal procedure.

The evidence Rakosky hoped to suppress from trial includes items taken from Miller's cell at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in April 2002, as well as the clothing he wore on the night of Thomas' murder, which police collected from an apartment in Harvey, LA. The defense has also challenged the methods police used to get witnesses to identify Miller in photographs.

Miller was convicted of second degree murder in September 2003, but months later Judge Sassone granted Miller's request for a new trial on grounds that prosecutors improperly withheld criminal background information on three state witnesses from the defense attorneys.

The state Supreme Court upheld Sassone's ruling in March 2006 and a new trial was scheduled to start this week, however, last month attorneys on both sides asked to move the trial back due to witness-related matters. The second trial is now set to begin June 9.

Miller is currently under house arrest as a condition of his $500,000 bond. He faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted.

In related news, Miller is also awaiting trial on two counts of attempted second-degree murder in the Club Raggs incident. Baton Rouge prosecutors have held those charges pending the outcome of Miller's murder trial in Jefferson Parish. That incident was captured by the club's video surveillance system.