Notes on New Orleans Contract Killer Garelle ‘Jigga’ Smith

Soulja Slim liked to rap “I keep that motherfucking heata on me / That’s why no nigga don’t come fucking with me.”

But on November 26th, 2003, Slim broke his cardinal rule, and left his pistol in his truck while he dashed into his mama’s house on Lafaye Street in Gentilly.

It got him killed.

To this day, word on the street has it that New Orleans contract killer Garelle “Jigga” Smith was the hitter that ambushed Slim, and shot him dead that night.

That’s a good bet as Smith was fingered in a number of street killings before his luck ran out on Saturday, August 13th, 2011. Early that morning he got shot dead on Hamburg Street just two miles west of where he was alleged to have killed Slim.

Smith was 29 years old.

Slim’s manager Anthony ‘Antman’ Murray would say.

You cannot control people that you do not understand

Smith’s colleague in Slim’s murder was supposedly Steven Kennedy but his role was never properly adjudicated as he was shot down at 1303 La Concha in Houston on December 28th, 2005. The fallout from Kennedy’s death saw two retaliation killings: Jerome “Man Man” Hampton, and upcoming rapper Renetta “Magnolia Shorty” Lowe both of whom died in a hail of 50 bullets in a gated apartment complex in New Orleans East.

Lowe was described as “collateral damage.”

Garelle Smith was raised by his grandmother Theresa in the St. Bernard Housing Projects. His mama Lynette K. Smith wasn’t up to the task of child-rearing – she had been sentenced to a two year bid in prison for possession of crack cocaine in 1994.

Notes on New Orleans Contract Killer Garelle ‘Jigga’ Smith

Garelle was wild, and took to street life with gusto but soon enough he followed in his mother’s footsteps, and in 1998 received a five year prison sentence for carrying a pistol while dealing drugs at St Bernard Projects. His judge exercised leniency and shipped him off to bootcamp instead of the pen.

He was 17 years old and his life of crime was just beginning.

Dealing drugs proved to be a primer for far more serious crimes.

On December 11th, 2003, New Orleans rapper and policeman’s son Spencer ‘Funk’ Smith Jr was sitting in his truck outside the St Bernard Housing Project when a man walked up and started blasting. Smith was shot dead and the vehicle riddled with bullet holes. Jigga was reckoned to be the man who did it.

Garelle was in jail for the ‘Funk’ Smith murder when District Attorney Eddie Jordan decided to drop the Soulja Slim case against him. Reliable witnesses are hard to come by when they’re afraid a dreaded street-killer might come visit them or their family. There’s a reason “snitches get stitches” graffiti is common in New Orleans.

On the other end of the spectrum, some people refuse to testify so they can take a crack at the killer themselves. They’re not going to leave justice up to the system; they prefer to administer retaliation on their own.

From an outsider’s perspective the Soulja Slim charges looked fairly strong. Garelle had been found in possession of a .40 caliber Glock handgun with the numbers filed off. Ballistics matched the slugs removed from Slim’s body.

Jordan’s decision was met with outrage from the community. Jordan and Police Superintendent Eddie Compass’ feet were held to the fire but Garelle walked free.

After a three year pause, Smith faced charges that he killed a rapper named Mandell ‘Fenny’ Duplessis on August 4th, 2006 inside a FEMA trailer in Gentilly.

Mandell ‘Fenny’ Duplessis

He was arrested in January of 2007 but District Attorney Eddie Jordan dropped the charges on Monday March 19th of that same year. Duplessis was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time having knocked on the door of the trailer while Garelle Smith and accomplices were in the midst of a home invasion.

When Fenny was accosted he fought back, and Smith allegedly shot and killed him. At the time of Duplessis’ death Jigga’s rap sheet was 25 pages long. His exploits were featured in a Soledad O’Brien segment on CNN.

Duplessis was shot five times.

Charmed life for a killer?

Six months later Jigga allegedly swung back into motion at the Duck Off nightclub on A.P Tureaud Avenue where Terry ‘Tuna’ Brock was found shot dead on Monday April 2nd 2007. Following a two month police investigation, Garelle was arrested in the Brock killing only to see District Attorney Eddie Jordan drop the charges.

Along with all the murder beefs Garelle Smith also stood accused of tearing down fencing at the shuttered St Bernard Housing Projects. The city was planning on demolishing the blighted complex when police came upon Smith on January 18th 2007. His arrest would spark an editorial from the local newspaper tut-tutting over how the judicial system could allow such a criminal to walk the streets.

Just two months later, District Attorney Eddie Jordan would drop the Mandell Duplessis’ murder charge against Smith, and he would walk free once more.

When his trial date on destroying the fence at the projects came up Smith was nowhere to be found. He would reappear in July of 2008 when police happened upon him outside Da Mojo barroom in the 7th Ward where he was caught attempting to dispose of a handgun.

Following his arrest, Judge Raymond Bigelow would soon free Garelle on a $25,000 surety bond with the proviso that he wear an ankle monitor.

Garelle ‘Jigga’ Smith

In December of that year, Judge Bigelow would throw out the firearms case. By this time Smith must have felt as though he had a permanent get out of jail free card, and when his vandalism court date came up on the docket in October of 2009, he was once again nowhere to be found.

Garelle ‘Jigga’ Smith would not show back up on police radar til Saturday, August 13th, 2011 when his body was found lying in the 3500 block of Hamburg Street just steps from his stomping grounds of the former St Bernard Projects. He’d been shot dead.

Yet to all men whose desire only is to live a short life but a merry one, I have no hesitation in recommending New Orleans.

Henry Bradshaw Fearon writing in 1818,

Garelle ‘Jigga’ Smith

b. August 28th 1981
d. August 11th 2011

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Soledad O’Brien special on CNN
Bounce: Rap Music and Local Identity in New Orleans By Matt Miller
The Year Before The Flood: A Story of New Orleans by Ned Sublette
The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes by Michael Newton
Triksat: Life and Death in New Orleans Rap by Nik Cohn
Sketches of America: A Narrative of a Journey of Five Thousand Miles Through the Eastern and Western States of America by Henry Bradshaw Fearon

  1. Great article. Thank you for this. I was a huge Slim fan from ‘98. So I guess the question is who put the hit out?? Who’d he piss off?? I’m so interested and fascinated

    • Lots of theories out there. I always figured it would come out after someone privy to the information passed away and couldn’t be take out violently. Thanks for the dough btw. rl

  2. Sad situation….I grew up with slim..the saying should go keep your enemies close. But your friends even closer! Rest in peace magnolia slim..aka Soulja Slim

  3. Good investigative reporting. What I want to know is how many people do you have to murder in the N.O., in order for a murder charge to stick. And it sounds like that D.A. Eddie Jordan is a P.O.S.

    • That’s a question that gets asked in these parts on a weekly basis, and has for the past 300 years. Thanks for the kind words btw. rl

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