McKinley “Mac” Phipps was convicted of manslaughter in 2001.
The crime podcast genre has generated momentum for many judicial districts to re-opening long-standing, highly-disputed cold cases. On Tuesday, the trend continued when the Louisiana Board of Pardons and Parole recommended former No Limit Records signee McKinley “Mac” Phipps, Jr. be made immediately eligible for parole.
His wife Angelique spoke to the positive person Phipps has been given his circumstances.
“During his stay at Elayn Hunt Correctional,” she said, “McKinley has served as a certified mentor for a number of groups, was appointed and maintained trustee status, volunteered with the mental health and hospice units, served as the president of the Music Association, completed several self-improvement courses, and began his college studies.” Phipps has been on work release in Lafourche Parish since earlier this month.
In 2001, Phipps was convicted of manslaughter in the case of a nightclub shooting in St. Tammany Parish. Phipps has maintained his innocence throughout his sentence. At the time, he was a rising star on No Limit Records. His sophomore album Shell Shocked, which peaked at number 11 on the US Billboard charts, is widely regarded as one of the best releases in the label’s vast discography.
In recent years, multiple activist groups have looked into Phipps’ case. In 2014, Northwestern University’s Medill Justice Project revealed that a key witness was coerced into identifying Phipps as the shooter. A subsequent investigation by David Lohr of The Huffington Post published a review of the conviction, revealing that at least four more witnesses were coerced, threatened, or intimidated by investigators. Back in November, NPR‘s Louder than a Riot podcast explored Phipps’ case in a three-part series. On Tuesday, a major hurdle was cleared on Phipps’ path to freedom.
“Everybody is very optimistic that this is by far the key hurdle,” University of Richmond professor Erik Nielson told HuffPost. “His whole family has been tireless. His parents have been so beaten down by the process…it’s not over until he’s out.”