GRETNA—Corey Miller, known to his fans as the rapper C-Murder, sat quietly Monday as lawyers began the long process of selecting a jury for his second-degree murder trial.
It is the second time Miller has been tried for the murder of Steve Thomas, a 16-year-old fan gunned down during a brawl in a Harvey nightclub in 2002.
The rapper, dressed in a green sweater and gray slacks and wearing gold-rimmed glasses, stood and glanced briefly at the jury pool when his attorney introduced him. The rest of the time he looked straight ahead or at papers on the table in front of him.
Miller's father, fiance, and other family members sat behind him. The judge had warned Miller not to communicate with them during the trial.
George and Dolores Thomas, the parents of the victim, sat on the other side of the courtroom.
Before the jury pool was brought in, State District Judge Hans Liljeberg rejected a defense motion for a venue change. He also refused to allow questioning of individual jurors away from the rest of the pool. Liljeberg did allow attorneys to grill them in groups on what they knew about Miller and the crime.
Most acknowledged they had heard of Miller and the crime, but few said they had heard his music or owned it. Many recognized him because of his brother, rapper Percy " Master P" Miller.
A couple of the prospective jurors said they couldn't be impartial if seated.
Defense attorney Ron Rakosky has argued that Miller can not get a fair trial in Jefferson Parish because of media attention to the case and because the parish sheriff called him a "gangster" when he was arrested.
The judge told the prospective jurors that he intended to seat a jury, warning them he would accept very few excuses for not serving. He said anyone caught lying to get out of jury duty would have to attend the trial daily as a spectator or go to jail for contempt of court.
Liljeberg said the trial was expected to last two weeks. Prosecutors have listed 85 potential witnesses and he favored work days that extended to 7 p.m.
Miller, who spent most of his time since the last trial on house arrest, has been in the East Baton Rouge Parish jail since he pleaded no contest in May to two counts of attempted second-degree murder in a 2001 incident in a nightclub there.
Last month, Liljeberg rejected the prosecutors' request for a postponement to investigate a new claim made by a friend of the Millers' that he killed Thomas.
Miller's attorney claimed Juan Flowers, who is serving a life sentence in a Georgia prison, killed Thomas. Flowers originally said that neither he nor Miller killed Thomas.
Assistant District Attorneys David Wolff and Shannon Swaim wanted more time to look into why Flowers changed his story and whether obstruction of justice or witness tampering was involved. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal denied an appeal of Liljeberg's ruling.
Flowers, 38, a transplanted New Orleanian, began serving a life sentence last year for a murder in Atlanta in March 2007. Liljeberg has granted Rakosky's request to have him brought to Gretna to testify in Miller's trial.
On July 2, Rakosky filed papers in court saying that Flowers admitted under oath that he killed Thomas.