July 27, 2010
Judges In C-Murder Case Under Investigation
Two judges who presided over New Orleans rapper C-Murder's trial for the 2002 murder of 16-year-old Steve Thomas, are now under investigation.
According to published reports, Judge Martha Sassone and Judge Ellen Kovach are being investigated by a secret panel after the office received a credible complaint against one of the judges who presided over the controversial case.
Although Sassone was the convicting judge in the case, Kovach is being investigated for her alleged ties to the rapper and for her use of the ruling in the case to gain political favor.
Sassone was running for re-election to the 24th Judicial District Court against Ellen Kovach, when Kovach attacked Sassone's rulings in regards to the C-Murder case in her campaign advertisements during her bid to be re-elected in 2008.
Although Kovach won, an ethics committee ruled that her campaign crossed ethical lines for using the C-Murder case as propaganda to be elected.
In 2003, C-Murder was convicted of shooting and killing 16-year-old Steve Thomas during a dispute at a nightclub.
The decision was overturned by the Louisiana Supreme Court, when it was learned the prosecutors expunged the criminal backgrounds of various witnesses in an attempt to strengthen their credibility on the stand.
At the re-trial in 2009, C-Murder was again convicted of the shooting, but controversy broke out when juror Mary Jacob claimed that she voted to convict the rapper after being pressed by a fellow juror.
“After she just kept harassing me, I decided, the judge don't want to listen to me, doesn't want to listen to us? I told them, 'You want him to be guilty? He's guilty, now let's get the hell out of here,” Jacob said.
C-Murder, who is serving a mandatory life sentence, is currently planning an appeal of the latest ruling on the grounds that the juror in question was forced to convict him and that Kovach's advertisements also prevented him from receiving a fair trial.