C-Murder's Lawyer And Loved Ones Hopeful After Recanted Testimonies: Exclusive
"I'm cautiously optimistic," says C-Murder's lawyer.
Corey “C-Murder” Miller has been in prison since 2009 serving a life sentence for the 2002 murder of a 16-year-old boy named Steve Thomas at the Platinum Club in Harvey, Louisiana. But over the last seven days, the former No Limit Records rapper and his family have received startling news: a key witness from the trial named Kenneth Jordan has recanted his statement, saying that detectives pressured him to lie in exchange for avoiding prison time for another criminal charge. And as of Monday (July 2), VIBE reports that another witness, Darnell Jordan, is also recanting his testimony, with similar claims of "threats and coercion," according to a memorandum filed by Miller's legal representation.
Miller’s attorney, Paul Barker, has filed two memorandums claiming that the new affidavits show Miller's rights were denied and that he should receive a new trial and an eventual release from prison.
"Because the testimony of the two eyewitnesses was the only evidence that the State had implicating Mr. Miller as the shooter, impeachment of those two eyewitnesses would have had the effect of impeaching the State's entire case against Mr. Miller," Barker wrote in a memorandum filed on Monday. "Had the State abided by its ethical duty of disclosure, it is highly unlikely that the State would have ever tried Mr. Miller."
Neither the Sheriff's Office nor the Jefferson Parish district attorney's office has commented about the case, according to The Times-Picayune in New Orleans.
Under the name C-Murder, Miller earned platinum plaques in the late 1990s and early 2000s with his siblings Percy “Master P” Miller and Vyshonne King “Silkk The Shocker” Miller under their label No Limit Records. Fan favorites of his included “Down For My Ni**az,” “Akickdoe!” and “Y’all Heard Of Me.”
A jury convicted Miller of the murder in Sept. 2003. There was no weapon found or DNA evidence, only the testimony from witnesses; but the initial conviction was overturned, because of the claim that prosecutors withheld information from the jury about the witnesses’ criminal records. He was convicted again and sentenced to life in prison, after a jury’s 10-2 verdict during his retrial on Aug. 11, 2009.
In the original trial, Kenneth Jordan testified that he was inside the now-closed Platinum Club on Manhattan Boulevard and saw Thomas get mobbed after stepping off the stage during a rap battle. After the fight, he testified, Miller stood over the 16-year-old and shot him in the heart.
But in a new affidavit, Jordan recants his testimony, saying that he saw a man “with a dark complexion wearing a hoodie” fire the shot, according to New Orleans Advocate.
“I know the individual who I saw shoot the gun was not Corey Miller,” he states in the affidavit.
Jordan says in the affidavit that detectives spoke to him more than a year after the shooting after Jordan’s newborn daughter had been found dead. He says police threatened him with criminal charges unless he testified against Miller. (The child’s mother was later charged and convicted for drowning the baby.)
“I was distraught and scared,” Jordan said in the affidavit, according to New Orleans Advocate. “JPSO officers told me that if I testified against Corey Miller I could ‘go home;' they told me what to say; they fed me facts about the fight and details about the DJ and the dance party, none of which I really knew.”
Barker told VIBE that he and a private investigator had pursued Jordan for long stretches of time after the trial because his testimony didn’t seem consistent with what happened. But Jordan never returned phone calls or notes from the investigator that were left at his home. He wasn’t legally obligated to since the trial was already over.
“There was something wrong with the case that just kind of smelled wrong, and I felt as though we just had to keep digging to find what it was,” Barker said. “When I got to Kenneth Jordan’s testimony, I thought, ‘something is not right about this.’”
Two of Miller’s friends and collaborators, Cuttboy G-Dinero and 2Meka Diaz, submitted his case to Reasonable Doubt, a true-crime show with the TV network Investigation Discovery in August 2017. When the investigators on the show searched for Jordan and another witness, Jordan finally stepped forward to change his story.
“I think he was all of a sudden ready to talk, and I think he saw that show as an opportunity to put the truth out there,” Barker said.
Jordan recanted his story while speaking with producers, and Barker and Miller’s investigator tracked Jordan down to get an official statement. They met, an affidavit was submitted, and the episode of Reasonable Doubt aired days later.
“If I could turn back the hands of time I wouldn’t have did it,” the 36-year-old said on Reasonable Doubt. “In that moment I felt like it was what I had to do. I just want my life back, and I want [Miller] to have his life back.”
In his memorandum, Barker shares that Kenneth was threatened with ten years of prison if he failed to testify against Miller and that he repeatedly told members of law enforcement and prosecution that his recorded statement to the officers was untrue.
“At no time during the 15+ years of proceedings in this tortured case has the state once disclosed this information to Mr. Miller himself, or to Mr. Miller’s attorney or any other member of Mr. Miller’s defense team.”
Less than a week later, VIBE reports, Barker filed another memorandum with a sworn affidavit with Darnell Jordan, the other witness who was working as a security guard at the club the night of the shooting. The Times-Picayune reports that in 2009, Darnell Jordan identified Miller as the shooter.
In the new affidavit, Darnell Jordan claims that he called 911 and never identified Miller as the shooter, and that he immediately told officers "C-Murder didn't do this" and that "the flash from the gun came from the other side of the pile [of people fighting]" opposite of Miller. The statement continues, with claims that detectives gave Darnell Jordan a piece of paper and said it was his statement, that he was "tricked" into identifying Miller as the shooter, and that police arrested Darnell Jordan on a material witness bond at his grandmother's house prior to Miller's second trial. He testified as the detectives instructed, he wrote, out of fear for his and his family's safety.
As for Miller himself, Darnell Jordan said that he pulled him away from the fight, and that while doing so, he pulled up his shirt and saw that there was no gun in Miller's waistband.
Barker said that now, Miller’s legal team hopes to get an evidentiary hearing in his case. That way, witnesses who would otherwise want to avoid testifying would be forced to by subpoena. That's where Barker would present his client's case: a lack of physical evidence or DNA against Miller, and two witnesses who have recanted their testimonies, replacing them with claims of police corruption.
From there, Miller may have a chance to finally get out of prison, but the process may take “a year or two.”
“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Barker said.
Hopes for freedom
Cuttboy G-Dinero and 2Meka Diaz, have said the news of Jordan’s recanted testimony has been a long time coming. They’ve insisted his innocence ever since he was charged, and they said their friend is glad to have his name closer to being cleared.
“We talked to him today,” Diaz said on a phone call with VIBE late Tuesday night (June 26). “He's very grateful and optimistic and relieved that his story is finally being told.”Dinero said the news was bittersweet.
“I'm happy, but this man did all this time for something he didn't do. You know how that feels? To be sitting in there?” he said in a written statement. “I salute C, he is one of the TRUest and realest people I know. But we have a justice system that we can't even trust; they failed Corey Miller.”
Romeo Miller, Corey Miller's nephew and the son of Master P, also shared his excitement on social media.
Beyond Miller’s case, Diaz is also hoping for a change in legislation in Louisiana. Louisiana is one of only two states that require a 10-2 vote by a jury to convict a defendant of a felony, as opposed to a unanimous jury. State senators JP Morrell, D-New Orleans, and Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, introduced Senate Bill 243 to end that practice; the bill has already passed the Senate, and if it passes the House of Representatives, it could be left to a vote for Louisianians in November.
Cuttboy G Dinero says he has a new single with C-Murder coming soon, “Dey Put Da Blame On Me,” which was recorded while Miller was on house arrest before his 2009 conviction. The snippet can be heard below.
Dinero says that if Miller gets out of prison, his first visits will be to his family and to worship. He said that Miller has spent a lot of his time deep in prayer while in prison.
“C got like three daughters. I think that’s the first place he gon’ go. And then I think after that, me myself, I think he’ll go to the church and thank the Lord.”