Prosecutors still have  sights set on ‘Lil Boosie’

“In this country, when you are charged with a crime, you’re entitled to a jury trial, and when the jury speaks, you’re supposed to respect that. ” Jason Williams, attorney for rapper Torence ‘Lil Boosie’ Hatch “We cannot change the facts that we present just because it offends him.” Dana Cummings, East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney

A year after renowned Baton Rouge rap artist Torence “Lil Boosie” Hatch was acquitted in the murder-for-hire of Terry Boyd, allegations that Hatch put a bounty not only on Boyd’s head but also on the heads of two other men who were killed continue to dog the imprisoned rapper.

To say the accusations do not sit well with Hatch’s family and Hatch attorney Jason Williams would be an understatement.

Last May, an East Baton Rouge Parish jury of nine women and three men found Hatch not guilty of hiring then-17-year-old Michael “Marlo Mike” Louding to kill Boyd in October 2009.

Louding, however, recanted his 2010 testimony before a parish grand jury that Hatch ordered and paid for the hit on Boyd. During the Hatch trial, Louding testified he and Hatch had nothing to do with Boyd’s death. Assistant District Attorney Dana Cummings, who prosecuted Hatch, contends Louding lied to the trial jury.

Last month, a different parish jury of nine women and three men convicted Louding, now 20, of first-degree murder in the slaying of Boyd. The jury agreed with prosecutors that the killing was a murder-for-hire. This time, Louding did not take the stand in his own defense.

At the Louding trial, as she did at the Hatch trial, Cummings argued that Hatch, 30, paid Louding to assassinate Boyd because Hatch learned from a convicted killer at the Louisiana State Penitentiary that Boyd — who had just been released from prison — planned to do Hatch harm.

In an interview Tuesday at his St. Charles Avenue office in New Orleans, Williams suggested the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office is not respecting the jury verdict in Hatch’s case.

“In this country, when you are charged with a crime, you’re entitled to a jury trial, and when the jury speaks, you’re supposed to respect that. That’s got to work both ways. You’ve got to respect the decision of the jury. They spoke,” Williams said.

“It does bother me. It’s not like I have standing to object. I’m not a party to that (Louding) case. But I wanted to object,” he added. “Torence’s family called me. They wanted to object.”

Cummings, in an interview Wednesday in District Attorney Hillar Moore III’s office, reiterated her belief that Louding lied to the Hatch jury, and that Louding killed Boyd at Hatch’s behest.

“We can’t change the facts that we present just because it offends him,” she said of Williams’ complaint.

Moore also said he does not second-guess his office’s decision to try Hatch before Louding.

“We just got the rug pulled out from under us the day before trial by a witness (Louding) who had been cooperating for two years,” the district attorney acknowledged.

‘Just didn’t add up’

Elvin Howard, a Baton Rouge police detective who interviewed Louding several times in May 2010, testified at Louding’s trial that Louding implicated Hatch in the February 2009 killing of local up-and-coming rapper Chris “Nussie” Jackson and the April 2009 slaying of Marcus “Gangsta” Thomas.

Howard said Louding told him that Hatch paid for both murders.

Williams maintains there is no evidence connecting Hatch to the murders of Boyd, Jackson, Thomas, or anyone else.

“The whole concept that he had a reason to do harm to Terry Boyd or these other folks just didn’t add up,” Williams said.

Hatch, who pleaded guilty in November 2011 to drug charges and was sentenced to eight years in prison, is scheduled to be released from the state penitentiary at Angola in November 2014, state Department of Public Safety and Corrections spokeswoman Pam Laborde said Monday. If he is released then, she said, he would remain on supervised release until June 2018.

Williams, who said his client would rather be at a facility other than Angola, believes Hatch could be released considerably earlier than the fall of next year.

“He has a lot of fans who are excited about his reintroduction” into society and the rap music world, Williams said.

The defense attorney also speculated on why Hatch was pursued by law enforcement.

“I think Boosie had a bad reputation with the law enforcement community in East Baton Rouge Parish,” he said. “He ruffled feathers in law enforcement.”

‘They dead now’

Hatch called himself the John Gotti of the south side in a song titled “187,” police code in California for homicide, and in other songs he made disparaging remarks about Moore and bragged about Louding.

“Hillar Moore, your racist ass is going to hell ... Probably be dead when I come out of jail,” Hatch says in a song on his album “Gone Til’ December.”

In Hatch’s song “187,” he says, “I’m the reason the murder rate sky high.” He also says, “Whoever try to play me, they dead now.”

Louding is mentioned in several of Hatch’s songs and is pictured in at least two of his videos on YouTube. “Marlo Mike up in the back seat beggin’ for a body,” Hatch says in the song “Lime Light.”

Hatch’s fans packed the courtroom every day during his trial, and his acquittal ignited a jubilant celebration among his supporters outside the 19th Judicial District Courthouse in downtown Baton Rouge.

One of Hatch’s supporters, Dedrick Deandre Green, 22, of Baker, pleaded guilty in March to making threats against Moore and others during Hatch’s trial. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 21. An affidavit of probable cause says Green posted the following message on the social network site Twitter on May 5, 2012: “I got a sniper rifle for Hillar Moore when he walk out the courthouse.” Green also wrote the same day that Hatch should be freed before Green shoots the “court house up.”

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Green two days later after finding him in the courtroom watching Hatch’s trial.

Hatch was acquitted May 11, 2012. A website — BoosieJustice.com — for fans and backers of Hatch is still operating.

Louding’s legal problems

Louding, awaiting sentencing in the slaying of Boyd, faces up to life in prison. Louding, of Baton Rouge, is not eligible for the death penalty because he was just 17 at the time of Boyd’s death. The U.S. Supreme Court has barred the execution of juveniles.

Louding also is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 9, 2009, death of Jackson, the April 25, 2009, death of Thomas, and the April 1, 2010, deaths of Charles “Nokie” Matthews and Darryl “Bleek” Milton.

And, Louding is charged with second-degree murder in the Dec. 18, 2009, killing of Michael Smith. That case, however, is not considered a murder for hire, Cummings said.

Jackson, 33, was shot to death through a window as he sat on a sofa in a house on America Street. Thomas, 20, was fatally shot behind the wheel of a truck on West McKinley Street. Boyd, 35, was shot to death through a window as he sat on a couch in a house on Vermillion Drive. Smith, 19, was fatally shot behind a house on Wisteria Street. Matthews, 37, and Milton, 25, were shot to death inside a car on Monte Sano Avenue.

Louding told police that Michael “Ghost” Judson was with him when Jackson, Thomas and Boyd were killed. Cummings said Judson was shot to death Jan. 1, 2010. His killing remains unsolved.

Admitted getaway driver Adrian Pittman, who testified at Louding’s trial but not at Hatch’s, pleaded guilty in November to manslaughter in Boyd’s death. Pittman was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison.

Louding is the only person currently charged in the deaths of Jackson, Thomas and Smith.

Louding and three others — Reginald Youngblood, Kendrick Johnson and Ryan “Sneaks” Carroll, all of Baton Rouge — are charged with two counts of first-degree murder apiece in the killings of Matthews and Milton. Louding told police he was the getaway driver in the double-slaying.

Moore said Louding deserves a life sentence or “a significant number of years” in the Boyd killing. If Louding receives such a sentence, the district attorney said, “I don’t see us trying him (for the other killings) because it would be a waste of time and effort.”

At Louding’s trial, state District Judge Trudy White allowed prosecutor Cummings to introduce what is called “other crimes evidence.” That evidence included the killings of Jackson, Thomas, Matthews and Milton.

Cummings argued to the jury that Hatch also ordered and paid for the executions of Jackson and Thomas.

“That was the system. Boosie paid. He (Louding) killed,” she argued at Louding’s trial.

Hatch was charged only in the killing of Boyd, and at this point, Moore said his office has no intention of filing charges against Hatch in the Jackson and Thomas slayings.

“Should further evidence develop that warrants prosecution, we would consider it at that time,” the district attorney said.

If Hatch were to be charged, Williams said, “I’d saddle up and move back to Baton Rouge.”

Hatch in prison

Hatch, who started his music career in Baton Rouge, has sold hundreds of thousands of albums nationwide.

“Superbad: The Return of Boosie Bad Azz” hit retail stores in September 2009, debuting at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 during its first week. It had sold more than 100,000 copies by the time Hatch was indicted in June 2010 in the Boyd killing.

Hatch told The Advocate in a 2006 interview that Tupac “2Pac” Shakur, the revered rapper fatally shot in 1996, inspired him to rap. Hatch said he spun his first rhymes at the age of 8.

Hatch, who suffers from diabetes, has several children.

When Hatch pleaded guilty in November 2011 to charges that accused him of conspiring to smuggle codeine, marijuana, ecstasy and other illegal contraband into Dixon Correctional Institute and the Louisiana State Penitentiary, he asked state District Judge Mike Erwin, “Can I somehow get some rehab in there?”

Jason Williams, who said he has visited Hatch at Angola, reported that Hatch earned a GED diploma and is receiving the substance abuse treatment he requested.

“He’s working in the facility,” Williams said. “He’s vigorously writing music. He’s trying the best he can to communicate and still be a parent to his children.”