An execution date has been set and a death warrant signed for a Philly rap vet convicted in the 1996 shooting death of a police officer during a botched bank robbery. Christopher Roney, better known under the rap name “Cool C,” is scheduled to die via lethal injection on Jan. 8, 2015, almost two full decades after he fatally shot Officer Lauretha Vaird in the abdomen.
Before the bank robbery, grand larceny and murder convictions, Roney was living a much different life. A childhood friend of Will Smith, in 1987 Roney released his debut single “Juice Crew Diss,” which was aimed at Marley Marl’s crew. He went on to put out a pair of solo albums under Atlantic Records ahead of joining the rap group Countless Endless Bank. In 1993, the group dropped their commercially unsuccessful self-titled album via Ruffhouse Records.
On Jan. 2, 1996 Roney, and two accomplices, C.E.B group member Warren McGlone (aka "Steady B") and fellow rapper Earnest Mark Canty, attempted a heist at a PNC Bank. Vaird, a 43-year-old single mother of two boys, was responding to the robbery when she became Philly’s first female police officer to be killed in the line of duty.
Roney has maintained his innocence throughout. He claims that he was home cooking breakfast at the time of the murder, a story backed up by his mother, Barbara Roney. At his trial, his sister, Angela Roney, pleaded against the death penalty. “He’s my little brother. Please don’t take his life,” she said. “No one wins here. We’re suffering too.”
Vaird’s relatives took the stand as well. Her eldest son, Michael Vaird, then 18, detailed how his world had been shaken up since the shooting. “My whole life turned around. I quit my job. I went from working and going to school to hanging back out on the streets,” he said.
“Nobody knows how I feel,” continued the teen. “The majority of this courtroom can go home to their mother and talk to her. I can’t.”
Roney was convicted with the help of witness testimony and physical evidence. In 2005, after appealing both his sentence and conviction, Roney’s guilty verdict was upheld and the execution was set for March of the following year.
In February 2006, he won a stay of execution pending the resolution of his post-conviction litigation. Roney’s cohorts were convicted of second-degree murder and are serving life sentences.
(Photo: Shepard Sherbell/Corbis)