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Louisiana Parole Board Votes To Grant Rapper McKinley ‘Mac’ Phipps Clemency

Rapper McKinley Phipps Jr., who has been imprisoned for 21 years and someday for against the law he claims he didn’t commit, could quickly be granted clemency following a Louisiana parole board’s unanimous vote that he be launched.

Phipps, recognized to hip-hop followers as “Mac,” was convicted in 2001 of man-slaughter within the sho-oting of 19-year-old concertgoer Barron “Bookie” Victor Jr. at a nightclub in St. Tammany Parish. Phipps’ authorized workforce has battled to commute his 30-year sentence after a sequence of investigative stories from former HuffPost reporter David Lohr uncovered flaws in his conviction.

The Louisiana Board of Pardons and Parole really useful Monday that Phipps be made eligible instantly for parole. It now goes to the desk of Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) for sign-off. If permitted, Phipps might want to seem earlier than the parole board yet another time.

Today’s been a good day. It’s kind of the beginning of the road to freedom, but there’s still some more bases to go.” McKinley’s spouse, Angelique Phipps, informed HuffPost. “It’s a start. One step closer.”

“Not only is this amazing for us, but I believe that it also provides hope for those in comparable situations. Our goal is in sight, and we will get to the finish line,” she mentioned.

Though there’s no timeline for the governor’s resolution, Phipps’s household is optimistic that will probably be immediate whereas considerations stay excessive in regards to the unfold of COVID-19 in pri-son amenities.

“This governor is incredibly fair. He does seem to do what’s right when it comes to reforming the criminal justice system here,” Angelique Phipps mentioned.

Angelique was current at Monday’s listening to ― held remotely by way of Zoom because of the pandemic ― as have been her husband’s dad and mom, Sheila and McKinley Phipps. Phipps Sr. grew visibly emotional after the board made its resolution.

At the time of the Feb. 21, 2000, sho-oting, Phipps was a 22-year-old rising star with No Limit Records. He was at Club Mercedes in Slidell to carry out when Victor was shot and kil-led. Phipps has been behind bars ever since.

“During his stay at Elayn Hunt Correctional, McKinley has served as a certified mentor for a number of groups, was appointed and maintained trustee status, volunteered with the mental health and hospice units, served as the president of the Music Association, completed several self-improvement courses, and began his college studies,” Angelique mentioned in an announcement learn at Monday’s listening to.

McKinley and Angelique Phipps married in 2018 inside Elayn Hunt Correctional Center. They met in 2014 by way of household.

A workforce of attorneys at Spell & Spell took on Phipps’s case in 2015 after Lohr’s HuffPost investigations discovered a sequence of issues along with his conviction. The prosecution didn’t use forensic proof and didn’t acknowledge the confession of one other man. Multiple witnesses informed HuffPost that they have been pressured into mendacity by authorities. Phipps’s rap lyrics have been used towards him at trial to painting him as somebody able to committing the crime.

Buddy Spell and his companions Annie Spell and Tara Zeller filed an software for clemency in 2016 that was finally rejected. Two years in the past, Phipps filed a petition himself, Angelique mentioned.

Following a prolonged course of, throughout which she “called the parole board office every week,” Angelique was informed in December that her husband would have his listening to in February.

Spell informed HuffPost it was a deeply emotional day. 

“It’s huge. It’s wonderful,” he mentioned. “I’ve been screaming and crying.” 

McKinley Phipps, a rising star in the New Orleans area, was signed to No Limit Records alongside artists such as Snoop D

McKinley Phipps, a rising star within the New Orleans space, was signed to No Limit Records alongside artists resembling Snoop Dogg snd Mystikal.

Phipps has been on work launch at a facility in Raceland in Lafourche Parish since earlier this month. Reliving the evening of the sho-oting to the parole board Monday, Phipps recounted seeing a commotion on the dance flooring and listening to a shot fired. He ran to the entrance door to search for his mom, and so they left collectively, he mentioned, including that he later realized a person had been kil-led.

Russell Baker, a detailed childhood pal of Phipps who was with him that evening, informed HuffPost it’s been an extended and painful battle within the years since, and he received’t really feel aid till he can lastly see his pal again along with his household.

“It’s basically 21 years to the date that it happened. When it first initially happened, my faith was strong and I basically knew that no innocent man would be sent to ja-il for life. I knew for a fact that he was innocent,” Baker mentioned. “My faith in the justice system has taken a hit.”

He mentioned he’ll without end be sympathetic to the sufferer’s household, but it surely doesn’t change what occurred to his pal.

Erik Nielson, a University of Richmond professor and co-author of “Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics and Guilt in America,” has been part of the workforce preventing for Phipps’s freedom. Nielson has carried out in depth analysis that has been important of the usage of lyrics to hunt legal convictions towards Black artists.

“Everybody is very optimistic that this is by far the key hurdle,” he informed HuffPost of Monday’s verdict. “His whole family has been tireless. His parents have been so beaten down by the process.”

But there’s nonetheless some uncertainty hanging, he mentioned. “It’s not over until he’s out.”

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