At least five witnesses in the 2001 manslaughter conviction against rapper McKinley “MAC” Phipps Jr. were threatened and bullied by prosecutors, says a Huffington Post report.
Phipps, a New Orleans-based artist once signed to No Limit Records, has served almost half of a 30-year sentence for the shooting death of 19-year-old Barron Victor Jr. during a concert.
Yulon James, the prosecution’s star witness, reportedly lied when implicating Phipps as the shooter. James now claims that she “never saw anything” and was threatened and hounded by the office of former St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed. "They stalked my house, they stalked my job and they stalked my family," James said. "The DA came over to my parents' house and told me I would have my baby in prison if I didn't testify.”
Phipps has been locked up since age 24. Back then, he went by the stage name “Mac the Camouflage Assassin.” Prosecutors used lyrics in his music against him during the trial, although the now 37-year-old maintains that the raps were taken out of context.
James is one of four other names, including the victim’s currently incarcerated cousin, Jerry Price, who claims to have been threatened, thrown in jail, or ignored by the D.A.’s office.
District Attorney Reed is the current subject of a government probe over misuse of campaign funds and decided not to seek re-election amid the federal investigation. His brother, Richard Reed, was recently indicted and arrested on four federal charges including kidnapping and sexual battery. He's currently out on bond.
In a statement published by the Times-Picayune, the new D.A., Warren Montgomery, acknowledged the latest allegations surrounding Phipps’ conviction. “Certainly no one wants to see an innocent person remain in jail. But there is a procedure for correcting injustices for those who feel they have been treated unfairly,” said Montgomery. “That procedure is to petition the court with evidence. At that time, I will fulfill my responsibility to respond to the allegations."
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