#FreeMeekMill could be a reality soon.
Meek Mill, the Philadelphia rapper jailed on a weapons-and-drugs conviction, may have been unjustly convicted thanks to a cop who lied at his 2008 trial, the district attorney said Wednesday in announcing that he will not oppose Mill’s immediate release on bail pending appeal of his case.
It was a shocking development in a longstanding and contentious case but it also has implications for scores of other convictions in Philadelphia involving police officers whose names appear on a newly revealed list of officers whose credibility has been questioned by fellow officers and by local prosecutors.
Mill has been in jail or under house arrest for more than two years, most recently for probation violations. Since last fall, he and his lawyers have been trying and failing to persuade a judge to release him on bail while his case is appealed.
Now evidence has emerged that puts his conviction — and that of scores of others — in jeopardy.
“In the event (Mill’s) conviction is reversed (in whole or in part) as a result of post-conviction proceedings, the risk of an unjust or disproportionate sentence having been served exists,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement. “That risk increases as long as (Mill) remains in custody.”
Because hundreds of other convictions have already been reversed based on information provided by a whistleblowing cop, “there is a strong showing of likelihood of (Mill’s) conviction being reversed (in whole or in part),” Krasner said. “Therefore the Commonwealth is unopposed to (Mill’s) petition for bail.”
The decision on whether to release Mill now or soon still rests with the judge in his case, but the district attorney announcing that the conviction may be tainted will likely help Mill’s position.
Mill’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, said he looks forward to the rapper’s release.
Krasner’s announcement followed another plea earlier Wednesday from Mill’s mother, Kathy Williams, to Krasner to “step in” and help her son.
Krasner’s spokesman, Ben Waxman, said Mill’s case is not the only one that could be affected by the list of cops accused of misconduct and barred from testifying as witnesses.
“It’s just one case, there are many, many implicated in all of this, but we don’t want to treat this case any different, we want to be as even-handed and fair as we possibly can be,” Waxman said.
Mill’s mother, his friends and fans, leading sports figures and community leaders in Philadelphia have sharply criticized Judge Genece Brinkley who sentenced Mill to two to four years in prison last fall for violating probation on a roughly decade-old guns-and-drugs case. An appeals court in December denied a request to free the 30-year-old musician on bail.
Krasner, who took office in January, stressed in his announcement that his office did not know that there was a list of cops with credibility problems — because the previous district attorney kept it secret — nor that the list included the name of Officer Reginald Graham, who arrested Mill (real name Robert Williams) and testified at his trial.
“As Officer Graham was the only witness called at trial and was the affiant on a search warrant which produced evidence against (Mill), his veracity is essential to the Commonwealth’s prosecution in this matter,” Krasner said.
The existence of a list of possibly corrupt cops became public last week on a judge’s order in connection with other cases.
“Obviously, the current District Attorney’s Office and this Court are presented with new and important information relating to the integrity of the original conviction that this Court could not have known at trial or at any subsequent violation hearing because the prior District Attorney’s Office did not provide it to (Mill) or to the Court,” Krasner said.
Meanwhile, Mill gave his first interview from prison to Rolling Stone, headlined #FreeMeekMill.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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