Papa didn’t raise me / mama didn’t care for me / a bastard child / no future no hope
When Louisiana State Police lofted a helicopter into the air above St John The Baptist Parish in March of 1998 they had no idea they were about to take down one of New Orleans most famous rappers.
The state had a scheme where they would fly choppers above I-10 and shoot radar down towards traffic til they found a driver who was hammering along with zero fear of the constabulary.
They soon nabbed Corey Miller aka C-Murder, brother of rap mogul Master P, and a chart-topping musician in his own right. Murder had just released Life or Death, his debut LP. It would go to number three on Billboard Pop, and sell over a million copies.
C-Murder had the money and assets to fly in notorious defense attorney Johnny Cochran when it came time to face charges of speeding, unlawful use of body armor, possession of stolen property and illegal possession of a firearm.
Just four years later he would reflect back on this particular courtroom appearance as the good old days.
In an Acadiana courthouse the following January, Cochran managed to get Miller off with a $500 fine, and six months probation. C-Murder was breathing free air before it was time to grab a lunchtime po boy.
Two Harahan police officers had sold Miller’s brother Percy aka Master P the illegal body armor.
Three months after spending the morning in court, Miller dropped Bossalinie, his second LP.
The ghetto is getting’ crazy/ These streets have got me trapped/ Many times I try to leave/ But the game keep pullin’ me back
The album went gold and stayed on the charts for 11 weeks. In spite of all of his success in the music world the streets kept calling Miller’s name.
Nine months after releasing Trapped In Crime, his third Lp, Corey was back on police radar in June of 2001 after they alleged he’d forced his way into a home in Baton Rouge while he was searching for someone he’d had an altercation with. The ink was barely dry on that warrant when the department claimed that Miller had a dustup at local barroom Club Raggs in August.
Club bouncers wouldn’t let him in the bar without being searched so he pulled a firearm from his waistband and started shooting before fleeing in his truck. While he was on the lam the cops filed two attempted murder charges on him.
Miller quickly saw the error of his ways, and turned himself in to the police less than a week after going on the run.
C-Murder would make bail but hardly turn towards a more abstemious life. On January 12th, 2002, the rapper got into an altercation with a 16 year old boy at the Platinum Club in Harvey, Louisiana.
The rappers henchmen swarmed on the lad, and as they were putting the boots to him, Miller, according to police, shot and killed the young man.
300 people were in the club but Jefferson Parish Detective Donald Clogher acknowledged that finding willing witnesses would be difficult as “people were scared to implicate him.” The Miller brothers had an alarming reputation in New Orleans with some speculating they preferred to settle street beefs with guns versus filing legal briefs.
When a witness finally stepped forward he claimed that C-Murder hollered, “Do you know who the fuck I am?,” before firing a single bullet into Steve Thomas’ chest. Following the shooting, Miller and his entourage immediately hit the high road back to Baton Rouge.
Just over one week later prosecutors indicted Miller on 2nd degree murder charges. That same day Thomas’ obituary appeared in the local newspaper. Bond was set at $2 million.
In late April 2002, Judge Martha Sassone was informed by prosecutor Doug Freese that the 30 year old rapper was using smuggled cellphones to intimidate witnesses from behind bars. His bond was summarily revoked. The gangster rapper would sit in his jail cell til the fall of the following year when his trial would finally commence.
Assistant District Attorney Douglas W. Freese got right down to business:
Eventually Darnell Jordan, a bouncer at the Platinum Club on the night of the shooting would take the stand to testify. Jordan claimed that Miller was in a group of young men, and they were all kicking and stomping Steve Thomas prior to Jordan seeing a flash, and hearing a bang, and surmising that C-Murder had just killed his young fan.
Later in the trial, a different witness would testify that the group of men administering the beating were shouting ‘Calliope’ in reference to the projects that Corey Miller was raised in.
A coterie of both prosecution and defense witnesses would eventually testify til finally on October 1st the jurors retired to their chambers to render a verdict. After just less than four hours they returned to the courtroom, and relayed their decision to the judge who pronounced Corey Miller guilty of second degree murder.
Corey’s relatives fled the room, and began cursing and screaming in the hallways. Miller received an automatic life sentence in prison. His lawyers vowed to appeal.
Which they did.
In April of 2004, C-Murder was granted a new trial by State District Judge Martha Sassone due to “prosecutorial misconduct.” It seems three of their key witnesses were less than savory, and had quite the rap sheets themselves. None of this information was revealed to the defense.
Prosecutors immediately appealed.
A new trial loomed but first Baton Rouge prosecutors Jeff Traylor and Brenda O’Neal announced they wanted to take a crack at Miller for the shooting at Club Raggs in June of 2001. To that end a Baton Rouge grand jury indicted Miller on attempted murder charges on July 22nd 2004. If found guilty Miller faced a 50 year bid in the penitentiary.
Come spring of 2005, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals was ready to rule on Judge Sasson’s decision to give Miller a new trial. Two of the three judges opposed Sasson saying “There was an abundance of evidence fully establishing Miller’s guilt.”
Corey Miller’s attorneys vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court and they did just that. On March 10th, 2006 the Louisiana Supreme Court scrapped Miller’s second degree murder conviction setting the stage for another court room showdown to determine the rapper’s guilt or innocence. The musician, now going by C-Miller, continued to be held on half million dollar bond.
A week later Miller was walking out of jail for the first time since 2002. His family had posted the half million dollar bond on the Steve Thomas murder as well as $250,000 on the shooting at Club Raggs. Prosecutors objected calling the rapper a “danger to the community.”
Mr Miller was not exactly going to be taking laps at the local roller rink. He was placed on a strict form of house arrest, and was forbidden from speaking to anyone except for family or attorneys. An electronic monitor was placed on his person.
Four months later Judge Martha Sasson gave Miller a bit more freedom – allowing him to leave his home from 6am in the morning til 10pm at night. The rapper’s quasi-liberty was short lived as the 5th Circuit ordered him back to home confinement just a month later.
And that’s where he would stay til March of 2009 when State District Judge Hans Liljeberg doubled his bond to $1 million, and ordered the rapper back to prison for breaking the terms of his house arrest. In a dizzying about face just two weeks later the same judge allowed Miller to reenter home confinement after friends and relatives posted a $700,000 bond.
In May of 2009, Miller’s Baton Rouge nightclub shooting case was adjudicated with the rapper pleading no contest to two attempted murder charges, and receiving a 10 year sentence.
Five months later in August 2009, Corey Miller walked back into a courtroom and the stakes could not have been higher.
On Wednesday August 12th 2009, following a week-long trial Corey Miller was found guilty of second degree murder in the death of his 16 year old fan Steve Thomas. Two days later he was sentenced to life in prison. 16 deputies were on hand as the sentence was read.
His attorneys announced plans to appeal.
In December of 2011 a three judge panel from Louisiana’s 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Corey Miller’s argument that he did not get a fair trial. Miller was remanded to further custody at the notorious Angola Prison facility.
In 2016 C-Murder and Boosie BadAzz collaborated on a new rap album which drew plenty attention from the authorities. Inmates at the Louisiana Prison are forbidden from participating in such endeavors and an investigation was launched. Penitentiary Chances went to number 17 on the Billboard charts and dropped off after two weeks.
A year later in May of 2017 a Jefferson Parish judge ordered Miller’s estate to pay $1.1 million to the slain Thomas’ teen’s family. The order was in response to a civil suit that Thomas’ survivors had filed.
In 2018 amid witnesses from Miller’s murder trials recanting their original testimony, Judge Steven Enright, 24th Judicial District Court, ruled that Miller did not meet the burden of proof for post-conviction relief.
At the time rumors were flying around that Corey Miller himself knew who the shooter was who killed Steve Thomas but refused to reveal the gunman’s name due to New Orleans gangster’s street code of silence.
He would say:
Let me tell you something about me – You ain’t never gonna hear nothing come out my mouth pointing the finger at nobody else. That just ain’t gonna happen. That’s just the way I live. That’s the way I come up.
Louisiana State Prison
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