Former platinum-selling rapper C-Murder, who was convicted of murder in the 2002 fatal beating and shooting of a teenage fan, has a new advocate in his quest for freedom -- Kim Kardashian West.
In a series of Twitter posts on Sunday, the reality TV-star and aspiring attorney said she is teaming up with R&B singer Monica, C-Murder's ex-girlfriend, in the fight to get the 49-year-old rapper's murder conviction overturned.
C-Murder, whose real name is Corey Miller, was convicted in 2009 by a non-unanimous Louisiana jury of killing 16-year-old Steve Thomas at a Louisiana nightclub in 2002. Miller is serving a mandatory life sentence at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, about 14 miles south of Baton Rouge.
"My heart goes out to the family of Steve Thomas. I can only imagine how hard this is and my intention is never to open up this painful wound but to help find the truth behind this tragedy," Kardashian West wrote on Twitter.
"True justice for the young man requires that the person who actually killed him be held responsible and that Corey Miller [be] returned home to his kids," she wrote.
Miller, the brother of star New Orleans rapper Master P, has maintained his innocence and even recorded a 2016 rap song from prison about his ordeal titled "Dear Supreme Court."
Since his conviction, two key prosecution witnesses, including one who had claimed he watched Miller shoot Thomas, have recanted their testimonies.
Kardashian West noted that Miller, whose 1998 debut album "Life or Death" soared to No. 1 on Billboard magazine's R&B/Hip-Hop chart, was convicted of second-degree murder by a 10-2 jury decision and at least two jurors who initially voted to acquit him have claimed they were pressured into changing their vote by their fellow panelists.
"If his trial was today, the jury would have had to be unanimous for him to be convicted," Kardashian West tweeted, referring to a U.S. Supreme Court decision in April finding non-unanimous jury verdicts in serious criminal cases are unconstitutional.
Miller was also sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2009 in a separate case in which he pleaded no contest to two counts of attempted murder stemming from an August 2001 shooting at a nightclub in Baton Rouge, according to court records.
Thomas, whose parents described him as a C-Murder fan, was beaten and fatally shot in the chest on Jan. 18, 2002, at the Platinum Club in Harvey, Louisiana. Miller was arrested a day after the killing for allegedly causing a disturbance at the House of Blues in New Orleans and was indicted in Thomas's murder in February 2002.
Miller was initially convicted of the murder in September 2003 in a unanimous jury verdict, but a judge threw out the conviction before he was sentenced after learning prosecutors withheld the criminal backgrounds of three witnesses.
Following Miller's retrial in 2009, Thomas's parents asked a judge to give Miller the maximum sentence.
"We still cry every day for our baby, " Thomas's mother, Dolores Thomas, said during the sentencing hearing. "We never got to see him graduate, go to prom, get married. We won't have a grandchild to love."
The parents later filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Miller, who was found liable for the death and ordered to pay Thomas's family more than $1.1 million in damages.
“My take on Kim Kardashian is I think she’s probably well-intentioned. I don’t think she has any malicious intent or anything toward my clients, but I think she is missing a lot of the facts about this case," attorney Trey Mustian, who represented Thomas's parents in the civil case, told ABC News on Monday. “I sat through both criminal trials as did my clients and I am convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that he [Miller] killed Steve Thomas."
Miller's case garnered new attention in 2018 when the Investigation Discovery network true-crime show "Reasonable Doubt" reexamined the case and spoke to two witnesses, who had identified Miller as the killer. The witnesses, Darnell Jordan, a bouncer at the Platinum Club, and Kenneth Jordan, no relation, recanted their testimonies, saying they were coerced and threatened by police investigators into identifying Miller as the gunman who shot Thomas.
Both men later signed affidavits recanting their testimony. But in 2019, Judge Steven Enright of the 24th Judicial District Court in Louisiana ruled that the recantations of the two witnesses were not credible and let Miller's conviction stand.
A spokesman for the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's Office declined to comment on Kardashian's push to get Miller freed, saying his office does not comment on cases that are still under appeal.
Earlier this month, the singer Monica, whose full name is Monica Denise Arnold, posted on Instagram that she is backing Miller's attempt to get his conviction overturned.
“The fight is about to change because you will not fight alone!" wrote Monica, who briefly dated Miller up until his first trial in 2003.
Kardashian West, who has become an advocate for prison reform, has worked in recent years to bring attention to prisoners she believes were wrongfully convicted or unjustly sentenced.
In 2018, she launched a campaign to free Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old grandmother who was given a mandatory life sentence plus 25 years for being involved in a Memphis drug trafficking case even though she never sold drugs herself and was a first-time offender. Johnson was released from prison after Kardashian West petitioned President Donald Trump to commute her sentence.
Kardashian West also supported the release from prison of Momolu Stewart, who at the age of 16 was tried as an adult for a 1997 murder in Washington, D.C., convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Thanks in part to Kardashian West's support, Stewart, who had served 23 years of his sentence, was released from prison in October 2019.
“There is a mass-incarceration problem in the United States,” Kardashian West said earlier this year while promoting an Oxygen network documentary on her newfound passion titled "Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project." “I went into this knowing nothing, and then my heart completely opened up.”