Confession Through Rap Song

Confession Through Rap Song

Confession through Rap SongCan rap song lyrics be used as evidence in a criminal trial?

A Charleston, WV judge ruled that a rap song performed by a murder suspect will be admissible as evidence during the criminal proceedings.

Shaw Thomas Lester is currently facing murder charges for three sniper-style slayings that occurred nearly a decade ago in Kanawha County, W.Va. A witness told authorities that Lester performed an impromptu rap song where he reportedly bragged about his involvements in the killings.

According to Kanawha County assistant prosecutor Don Morris, the witness turned over the lyrics to the rap song about a month ago. According to Morris, the witness wrote down the lyrics to the song that she said was performed during a car ride in 2008. Prosecutors said the song represents a statement of confession. Prosecutors did not read the lyrics to the court during the Tuesday pretrial motions hearing.

Lester is on trial for the summer 2003 murders of Jeannie Patton, Okey Meadows Jr. and Gary Carrier Jr. The murders occurred outside of a convenience store and were reportedly drug related. Lester was not named as the main suspect in the killings until last year. Lester is accused of using a scoped rifle to shoot the victims.

Kanawha County Public Defender, George Castelle, the lead attorney on the case, asked Judge Bloom to make the lyrics inadmissible in court. He sought to prevent the witness who allegedly heard the rap from testifying. Castelle argued that the intention of song lyrics is not to reflect actual events that may have taken place.

“When Elton John sings ‘Rocket Man,’ that doesn’t make him an astronaut,” Castelle stated.

In the end, Judge Bloom ruled that witness may testify about the lyrics.

Castelle also asked the judge to consider moving the trial to a different county. Castelle fears that media coverage up to this point on the case has tainted the jury pool in Kanawha County.  Castelle argued that 63 percent of potential jurors responded to a mail-in questionnaire stating they were “heavily to moderately exposed” to the case. Additionally, 81 of the jury candidates responded to the questionnaire by saying they believed Lester was guilty.

Judge Bloom denied Castelle’s motion to move the trial, but said he would not throw out the consideration all together.  Judge Bloom stated he may reconsider moving the trial dependent upon the outcome of jury selection that is to take place next week.

“Just because there has been a lot of publicity doesn’t mean there’s been an overriding public sentiment,” Judge Bloom states.

The moral of this story is next time you may be considering writing a song, make sure to leave out the confessions, as they may in fact, be used against you in the court of law.

South Carolina Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in the state of South Carolina, contact the South Carolina criminal defense lawyer at the Strom Law Firm today. We represent criminals in both state and federal courts. We understand what is at stake. Call us today for a free consultation. 803.252.4800.

About Pete Strom

Defending criminal charges including drug crimes, DUI, CDV, mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, computer crimes, money laundering, and juvenile crimes, Pete also handles Federal and State investigations. Representing individuals in Civil Matters including Class Actions, Personal Injury, Qui Tam Actions, Defective Products, Nursing Home Neglect, and Professional Licensing Defense cases. Joseph Preston “Pete” Strom, Jr., the managing partner at Strom Law Firm, L.L.C., has been fighting for justice since 1984.

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