Rapper Lil’ Boosie released from Angola penitentiary

Baton Rouge rapper Torence “Lil’ Boosie” Hatch was released from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola on Wednesday night — and not even Hatch knew how close he was to freedom until about an hour before he got out.

Hatch, who was serving an eight-year sentence on drug charges, left Angola just after 7 p.m. in a prison van, Warden Burl Cain said.

“He is free,” Cain said, noting that Hatch, 31, remains on supervised parole until 2018.

Cain said a prison van took Hatch to a West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office substation Wednesday night, where the rapper was met by friends and family who picked him up and took him to New Orleans. On Thursday, Hatch must report to a parole officer in Orleans Parish, Cain said.

Until Wednesday, Hatch’s projected release date was in May. But when Hatch completed a “self-help” program Wednesday afternoon, the credit earned from the program made him immediately eligible for release, Cain said.

Hatch first arrived at “The Farm” in 2009 after pleading guilty to a third-offense marijuana possession charge. Since then, he’s faced numerous accusations, including a highly publicized murder trial in the 2009 killing of Terry Boyd. Hatch was acquitted of first-degree murder in Boyd’s death in May 2012.

Hatch was originally accused of paying Michael “Marlo Mike’’ Louding to kill Boyd, who was fatally shot inside a Vermillion Drive home at about 12:40 a.m. on Oct. 21, 2009. Louding, now 19, told police in a videotaped statement that Hatch paid him $2,800 to kill Boyd, 35.

But in sworn testimony, Louding recanted, saying he and Hatch had nothing to do with the crime.

Hatch remained imprisoned after his acquittal on the murder charge because he pleaded guilty in 2011 to drug-related counts that accused him of conspiring to smuggle codeine, marijuana, ecstasy and other illegal contraband into Dixon Correctional Institute and the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

During the plea hearing, Hatch asked Judge Mike Erwin, “Can I somehow get some rehab in there?’’

Although Hatch violated some prison rules shortly after his arrival in 2009, the rapper eventually came around, entering every rehabilitation program he was eligible for, Cain said.

“I’m hoping that he’s going to be a better person when he gets out than when he got there,” Cain said.

Hatch would have been released earlier than Wednesday had he not violated various prison rules, including some telephone use rules, shortly after he arrived about five years ago.

“When he first came here, he didn’t understand that he had to do what we say,” Cain said, adding that Hatch lost “good time” three times.

The warden said the time and date of Hatch’s release wasn’t made public “just to keep everything calm.”

While at Angola, Hatch completed at least one substance abuse program and at least one religion-based program, Cain said.

“He needed all of that. He needed the treatment programs,” Cain said.

The rapper also earned his GED certificate. Hatch told Cain, “He wished his grandmother could’ve been there,” Cain said.

East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Hatch deserves to be treated just like any other paroled inmate.

“He’s kind of in a unique situation where he can deliver a lot of messages, and I really hope it’s the right messages,” Moore said.

He added later, “I sure hope he gets that message out of ‘put the guns down, don’t shoot, don’t kill each other.’ ”

Moore said prosecutors don’t have any active charges pending against Hatch. However, the rapper is due to appear in the 19th Judicial District Court in front of Judge Richard “Chip” Moore on March 14.

Hillar Moore said prosecutors still disagree with the jury’s verdict in Hatch’s murder trial, but have since moved on.

“I hope that he becomes a productive citizen,” said Moore, who was the target of a threat from a Baker man during Hatch’s murder trial.

Attempts to reach Hatch’s attorney, Jason Williams, were unsuccessful late Wednesday.

Editor’s note: This story was changed March 12, 2014, to reflect Michael “Marlo Mike” Louding’s correct age, 21.