Father: Slaying victim was fan of accused rapper
GRETNA, La. — The father of a 16-year-old boy beaten and shot to death at a nightclub where he’d gone to see New Orleans rapper C-Murder testified Wednesday that his son was a big fan of the rapper and covered his bedroom wall with posters of his rap idols.
C-Murder, whose real name is Corey Miller, is charged with second-degree murder in the Jan. 12, 2002, death of Steve Thomas, who was shot and beaten in a now-closed nightclub in Gretna, a suburb of New Orleans.
Miller was found guilty of the charge in a 2003 trial, but the judge overturned the conviction, siding with defense attorneys who said prosecutors improperly withheld criminal background information on three key witnesses.
Sobbing and wiping tears from his eyes, George Thomas told jurors Wednesday that Steve was his “baby” and he thought his son was at a movie on the night of the shooting.
Thomas, 66, said his son enjoyed basketball and baseball, but loved the thought of becoming a rapper like his favorites: brothers Percy “Master P” Miller, Vyshonn “Silkk The Shocker” Miller and Corey Miller.
“He had posters all over his room of rappers,” the elder Thomas said as his wife left the courtroom crying. “He had a lot of them, but mostly the Miller brothers.”
The father said when he learned of Miller’s arrest in the death of his son, “I took all that junk he had on the wall and threw it in the garbage can.”
Using a fake ID and with gold foil covering his teeth, the teen sneaked into the club to see Corey Miller and apparently got too close, prosecutor David Wolff said in his opening statement Wednesday.
“For some reason, we’re not sure why, an altercation arose between Steve and Corey Miller and his entourage,” Wolff said. “This child was beaten, this child was hit. He was on the ground being beaten when Corey Miller pulled a .38 revolver. He stuck his hand in among those that were brutally beating Steve and shot him in the chest.”
Although there were believed to be about 400 people in the club that night, only about 150 were left when police secured the area. Only one person claimed to have seen the shooting, and he later changed his story.
Wolff acknowledged that the murder weapon was never recovered, but said three people — who later identified Miller — would testify that he was the killer.
Defense attorney Ron Rakosky said the prosecution’s case was based on dubious testimony and little physical evidence — none of which pointed to Miller.
“He was arrested on flimsy evidence and he is being prosecuted on evidence that is even more flimsy and is less credible than it was seven and a half years ago,” Rakosky countered in his opening address.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Bryan Singleton, one of the first officers on the scene, testified that none of those present said they had seen anything and the only description of the suspect was a “black male.”
Prosecutors then called Jefferson Parish assistant coroner Dr. Karen Ross, who testified that a series of photographs showed the bloody gunshot wound that killed Thomas and bruising on his head and neck that was consistent with being beaten.
It took only two days to seat 12 jurors and two alternates, although the defense has argued it would be impossible to get a fair jury in Jefferson Parish.
If convicted of the charge, Miller, 38, could be sentenced to life in prison.
The Miller brothers 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. Corey Miller released a solo album last year, “Screamin’ 4 Vengeance.”