Former No Limit Rapper McKinley 'Mac' Phipps Jr. Released From Prison
Former no-limit rapper McKinley "Mac" Phipps Jr. was paroled Tuesday after spending nearly half his life in a fatal shooting in a Louisiana nightclub at the age of 22.
Phipps Jr., 43, was released just hours after the Louisiana Board of Pardons and Committee on Parole's unanimous decision to grant parole. He has served 21 years of a 30-year prison sentence and protests his innocence. His case attracted renewed attention in 2015 after five witnesses told HuffPost that they had been intimidated by prosecutors to testify against him.
"We are deeply relieved and blessed to have McKinley at home," his wife Angelique Phipps said in a text message to HuffPost on Wednesday. "It was a long time coming and we are looking forward to this next chapter in life."
Phipps Jr. said he was grateful for the opportunity as he spoke Tuesday morning during an online parole hearing attended by his parents, Sheila and McKinley Phipps and his wife.
"I am sorry for all of the people who have been affected by this situation and I would definitely like to apologize to the victim's family and anyone who has been affected in any way."
Phipps Jr. said he plans to help out in his mother's business, an art gallery and studio, and work as a painter for a friend's construction company
McKinley Phipps Jr. was released from prison Tuesday. (Photo: Courtesy of Angelique Phipps)
In 2001, Phipps was convicted of manslaughter in the killing of 19-year-old concert-goer Barron “Bookie” Victor Jr. a year earlier in a nightclub in Slidell, Louisiana. Victor Jr. was shot dead after a fight broke out at an event that was about to perform at Phipps, a rising star who was under contract with No Limit Records at the time.
Phipps, his friends, family and fans have long firmly believed that he was not involved. In 2015, a series of investigative reports by former HuffPost reporter David Lohr revealed a number of errors in his conviction. This included a confession from a bodyguard that was denied by prosecutors and five witnesses who signed affidavits swearing that they were ignored or forced to make false statements. They came after former District Attorney Walter Reed, who headed the prosecution, resigned. Reed was sentenced to four years in prison in 2017 for corruption and fraud.
Phipps fought repeatedly for his freedom and relief; however, an earlier application for parole in 2016 was denied. A recent legal attempt to overturn his conviction stalled after the Supreme Court ruled not to retroactively apply its ruling that non-unanimous juries - like the one that sentenced Phipps - were unconstitutional. Louisiana was one of two states that had split sentences at the time of his conviction.
In February, the parole board voted for a pardon. Louisiana's Governor John Bel Edwards (D) signed the proposal in March. A grace grant recognizes a person's efforts in self development; it does not exonerate them for crime.
Board officials noted Tuesday that Phipps Jr. had an outstanding track record during his incarceration, had no disciplinary violations, received technical training certificates, and ran mentoring programs for younger inmates. When he was paroled, he completed a job release program in the Lafourche parish.
Phipps Jr.'s release is conditional. It will be 9 p.m. curfew until 6 a.m., must stay away from places that serve alcohol, must take part in 6 hours of community service per month with young people at risk and meet with his probation officer every week for the first 90 days.
Angelique Phipps said the Supreme Court decision last month was disappointing, but for now they were focused on reassuring Phipps Jr. and getting off to a successful start in his new life. They will re-examine the possibility of discharge in the future, she said.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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