A prosecutor told jurors Saturday that Baton Rouge rapper Torence “Lil Boosie’’ Hatch hired a “young, gullible, cold-hearted hit man’’ named Michael “Marlo Mike’’ Louding to kill Terry Boyd in October 2009 because Hatch learned Boyd had been released from prison and planned to do him harm.
But one of Hatch’s attorneys countered in his opening statement at Hatch’s first-degree murder trial that Hatch and Boyd’s sister had a child together and that there was no bad blood between Hatch and Boyd.
Jason Williams, who represents Hatch, noted that an old bullet was found in Boyd’s body when he was killed and said, “A lot of folks had some ill will toward Terry Boyd.’’
Williams also suggested the only reason the 29-year-old Hatch is standing trial in Boyd’s slaying is because Hatch is a “high-profile rapper.’’
Louding, 19, faces murder charges in the deaths of Boyd and five other people in Baton Rouge during a 14-month span, including the shooting death of local up-and-coming rapper Chris “Nussie” Jackson on Feb. 9, 2009, and the double murder of Charles Matthews and Darryl “Bleek” Milton on April 1, 2010.
Louding, described by East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Dana Cummings as the “key’’ to the murder cases, is charged separately from Hatch with first-degree murder in Boyd’s killing but has not been tried.
Cummings told the jury she will call Louding as a witness but now expects he will lie because Hatch and his associates allegedly have gotten to him.
Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty in Hatch’s case. Louding, who was 17 at the time of Boyd’s death, is not eligible for the death penalty because of his age.
Cummings told the 12 jurors and two alternate jurors in Hatch’s case that Louding entered into an agreement with prosecutors in June 2010 that called for him to receive a sentence of less than life in prison in exchange for his cooperation.
“There was never an amount of years discussed,’’ she said inside a packed courtroom that is under heavy security.
Williams argued to jurors that “something less than life could be 90 years or nine days.’’
“It’s up to them,’’ he said of prosecutors.
Williams said Louding and Adrian Pittman, 38, who also is charged with first-degree murder as the getaway driver in the Boyd case, are “just trying to get themselves out of trouble’’ by implicating Hatch.
Boyd, 35, was shot to death through a window while he was sitting on a sofa inside a Vermillion Drive home Oct. 21, 2009. Cummings said there were no leads in the Boyd case for months until April 1, 2010, when Matthews and Milton were found shot to death inside a car. Shell casings from the double-murder scene matched casings collected from another crime scene, she said.
“The name Marlo Mike came on the radar,’’ she explained to the jurors, adding that the word on the street was that Marlo Mike was connected to Hatch.
Cummings also noted that Milton and Hatch were “extremely close.’’
In fact, Williams said, Milton was “one of Torence’s best friends,’’ and Hatch kissed Milton’s mother at her son’s funeral.
“Michael Louding has admitted to killing him,’’ Williams said of Milton, arguing that the state’s case does not hold water.
Williams suggested Louding was “running amok in Baton Rouge.’’ He also said Louding has told doctors he hears “strange voices’’ that tell him to kill people.
“At no point did he say that voice is Torence Hatch,’’ Williams stressed.
Cummings said authorities legally intercepted a phone call between Hatch and his girlfriend, Walnita Decuir, on April 2, 2010, the day after Milton and Matthews were killed.
“Torence Hatch is furious,’’ Cummings told the jury. “Torence Hatch told Walnita to tell Marlo Mike to handle that.’’
Williams said Hatch wanted the flowers and arrangements for Milton’s funeral paid for.
Cummings said law enforcement authorities received a complaint against Louding in mid-April 2010 for aggravated assault and terrorizing, and he was picked up May 4, 2010, and questioned at the newly formed Violent Crime Unit.
Louding initially denied involvement in a string of unsolved slayings in Baton Rouge but “then he began to talk’’ and implicated himself and others in the killings, the prosecutor said.
“He implicated Torence Hatch’’ and Pittman and Michael “Ghost’’ Judson, she said. Judson is now deceased.
Louding told authorities that Hatch paid $2,800 for Boyd’s killing after learning at his Baton Rouge recording studio that Boyd intended to “jack and slap’’ him.
By June 2010, with Hatch and Louding named in separate first-degree murder indictments in the slaying of Boyd, a “scared’’ Hatch and his closest associates launched a “campaign to keep Michael Louding from testifying against him, to change his story,’’ Cummings said.
“They worked on him and they worked on him and they worked on him,’’ she argued. “He’s (Louding) going to try to get him (Hatch) off,’’ she said.
Williams argued that Judson had been robbed of his drugs and money by Boyd and that Judson “wanted to pay him (Boyd) back.’’
“The police weren’t interested in that story. Michael Judson is dead. They were much more interested in going after a high-profile rapper. That’s why we’re here,’’ Williams said.
Cummings told jurors they will hear some of Hatch’s violence-laden rap lyrics. Louding is mentioned in several of Hatch’s songs and is pictured in at least two of his videos on YouTube. In the song “Lime Light,’’ Hatch states, “Marlo Mike up in the back seat beggin’ for a body.’’
The prosecutor also talked about tattoos that Hatch and Louding have on their bodies, including references to AK-47 assault rifles. Two weeks after Boyd’s killing, she said, Louding got a tattoo that reads, “Yo Boosie. Who’s next?’’
“What arrogance. What arrogance,’’ Cummings said.
“She’s also going to prosecute him (Hatch) for tattoos,’’ Williams told the jury. “They just want to muddy him up.’’
Williams said the “Who’s next” tattoo phrase refers to several friends of Hatch and his friends who have lost their lives.
Hatch is serving an eight-year prison term after pleading guilty in November to charges that accused him of conspiring to smuggle drugs and other illegal contraband into Dixon Correctional Institute and the Louisiana State Penitentiary.
Testimony in the trial resumes at 1 p.m. Sunday in 19th Judicial District Court.
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