C-Murder: Rapper Lives His Lyrics
The Prosecution Attacks — Part 1
The case languished for more than a year, finally getting underway in early September 2003. In an effort to weed out those who may have had preconceived notions about C-Murder and the music he was known for, prospective jurors were asked for their opinions on rap music and whether Corey's stage name might adversely influence their verdict.
Following seven days of screening, an all-white jury was selected, and the trial began on September 17. In Freese's opening statement, he told the jurors how Thomas idolized C-Murder and Master P, plastering his bedroom wall with pictures of them. Later, after the youth's murder, his father, George Thomas, Jr., pulled all the pictures down, Freese explained.
Across the aisle, Corey Miller, alias C-Murder, sat passively at the defense table with Rakosky and his other attorney Martin Regan. No longer the snarling, defiant thug of his street persona, he was dressed conservatively in charcoal gray pants, a gray dress shirt and pearl gray tie. In his opening statement, Rakosky told the jury, "You will find Mr. Miller not guilty for the simplest of reasons. He did not kill Steve Thomas." He called prosecution witnesses "unreliable and untrustworthy," to which Freese countered that it was difficult to find witnesses willing to cooperate with authorities and testify against a celebrity with a fearsome reputation.
The first prosecution witness, Keshawn Jones, 20, emotionally testified that she knew Thomas from high school. Under questioning by Assistant D.A. Roger Jordan, she said she witnessed a melee in which Thomas was on the floor being beaten by some of the young men in Corey's entourage. However, when Jordan asked what happened next, Jones refused to answer. Jordan then played an audiotape of Jones telling Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office Detective Donald Clogher that she saw a man she recognized as C-Murder pull out a gun, extend his arm and shoot Thomas in the chest. When asked if she had made that statement to Clogher, Jones hesitantly replied "Yes."
In his cross-examination of Jones, Rakosky got her to admit she hadn't actually seen the shooting and he told the court no murder weapon had ever been found, nor did any physical evidence link Corey to the crime.
Darnell Jordan, a security guard at the Platinum Club the night Thomas was murdered told the court that he saw the fight and said Corey was involved in it. Although he didn't see a weapon in Corey's hand, he saw a flash and heard a bang and, when asked if he was sure Corey pulled the trigger, Jordan replied, "There's no doubt in my mind." Jordan, who said he was standing near the club's pool tables, testified that he saw Corey among a group of youths punching and kicking Thomas while he was on the floor. Jordan said he tried to break up the fight and was about five or six feet away from where the killing took place.
Initially, Jordan said he lied to investigators, giving a description of the assailant that didn't fit Corey, because "I was afraid for my life." Later that night, however, he told JPSO Deputy Kevin Nichols, who was working a detail at the club, that Corey was the killer. Living out of state at the time he gave his testimony, Jordan said he was no longer afraid to tell the truth.
Another prosecution witness, Eloise Matthews, told the court she had stood on a chair to watch the fight and she witnessed Corey and several of his friends beating Thomas. However, she said, she slipped off the chair and didn't see the actual shooting.