Rapper Corey “C-Murder” Miller was convicted Tuesday of second-degree murder for the 2002 shooting of a fan during a nightclub brawl, capping tumultuous jury deliberations at his second trial in the killing.
The Louisiana jury reached the 10-2 verdict around 1:30 p.m. in its second day of deliberations. Jurors had reached the same verdict earlier in the day, but District Judge Hans Liljeberg ordered them back to the jury room for more deliberation because of a questionable vote. Ten votes are required for a second-degree murder conviction.
Liljeberg said after the verdict’s initial reading that one juror had apparently changed her vote just to end deliberations — rendering the verdict invalid. Three jurors had been seen crying in the courtroom Tuesday morning, and the day before they sent a note that they were having trouble reaching a consensus.
The invalid verdict prompted defense attorney Ron Rakosky to move for a mistrial saying that the judge had pressured the jury into reaching a verdict. Liljeberg denied the motion.
“I don’t think I pressured them at all,” Liljeberg said. “I told them if they could not reach a verdict to let me know.”
The courtroom was completely silent when the verdict was given for the second time. More than a dozen law enforcement officers filled the center aisle, and the judge had warned that anyone who so much as gasped would be arrested.
The victim’s family left in tears.
“I’m not rejoicing. I feel bad for (Miller’s) family. But at least they can see him. What have we got but a gravesite and a photograph,” said George Thomas, whose 16-year-old son, Steve Thomas, was shot to death during the Jan. 12, 2002, brawl in a now-closed Harvey, La., nightclub.
Miller’s family and friends also cried outside the courtroom. His sister, Germaine Miller, shouted and accused the prosecutors of corruption.
“This isn’t over,” said Marie Miller, Corey Miller’s aunt. “This verdict is wrong. We will not let this rest.”
The defense attorney for the 38-year-old rapper, who faces life in prison, declined comment after the hearing.
Prosecutor David Wolff said he thought the verdict would stand up on appeal.
“The judge ran a very clean trial. Deliberating on a homicide case is difficult,” he said.
Miller was previously found guilty of killing Thomas, but a judge overturned the 2003 conviction, siding with defense attorneys who said prosecutors improperly withheld criminal background information on three key witnesses.
Miller has been in jail after pleading no contest to two counts of attempted murder in a separate altercation at a nightclub in Baton Rouge in 2001. He faces sentencing later this month in that case.
Attorneys for both sides return Friday morning to Liljeberg’s court at which time a date will be set for the sentencing hearing in the latest conviction.
Miller and his brothers — Percy “Master P” Miller and Vyshonn “Silkk The Shocker” Miller — used to rap on the now-defunct No Limit record label, a popular producer of Southern rap through the 1990s that was founded by Percy Miller.