Mississippi Drug War Blues: The Case of Cory Maye

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

So this is the project I teased yesterday–and the reason I was in Mississippi last December.

It’s the latest Drew Carey video, and it’s on Cory Maye. I think it’s really well-done. Warm congratulations to Paul Feine, Roger Richards, and the gang at reason.tv for putting it all together. I know it was a lot of work. It’s the longest Carey video to date, and the one in which the reason.tv staff has invested the most time producing. I think it paid off. It gets quite emotional in places. The scenes with Cory’s mother, and where Melissa Longino reads from Cory’s Thanksgiving card to his daughter still choke me up. It’s beautifully shot, too. I’d recommend watching in full-screen mode.

There’s also a video interview with your humble Agitator about the issues involved in Cory’s story.

Finally, if you want more information on the case, the reason.tv site has a rundown of related articles and links. Or, if you’re really motivated, here’s my archive of posts on Cory’s case.

People frequently ask me how they can help Cory out. Here’s an easy way: Spread this video far and wide. Vote it up on sites like Digg and Reddit (though I’d recommend voting up the reason.tv link, not this one). Email it to people who might be interested in the case. Embed it on your own blog. I think this is the most compelling presentation of Cory’s story yet. It can only help if lots of people see it.

UPDATE: Here’s the Digg entry. Here’s the entry for Reddit.

Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

24 Responses to “Mississippi Drug War Blues: The Case of Cory Maye”

  1. #1 |  Tokin42 | 

    Great piece. I’ve really liked the other reason/drew carey vid’s but this one is so much more substantial. Maye has already spent almost 7 years for a horrific mistake the officers made, what a shame.

  2. #2 |  Greg N. | 

    1. This will make a good video to show the kids today in class.

    2. Draft Bob Evans for Governor.

  3. #3 |  Glenn | 

    Link to video on digg:

    http://digg.com/people/Videos_Mississippi_Drug_War_Blues

  4. #4 |  Greg N. | 

    The kids are rightfully outraged. Thanks for the video.

  5. #5 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Great video, I’ll be spreading it around, too.

  6. #6 |  Nathan | 

    Greg: How old are your kids? Was there any good discussion?

    Radley: Great job. Please pass that along, as well… I know this wasn’t totally your doing. Not too often am I brought to tears while so enraged…

  7. #7 |  Bronwyn | 

    I’m waiting for the download, but you can be sure this will be posted on my blog and, if I can figure out how, on my facebook page, too.

    I haven’t heard from Cory in a while, and just wrote to him again on Monday. Hope he’s doing well – or as well as can be expected.

    People look at me funny when I tell them he’s my friend. Then they look skeptical when I tell them his story. If they make it so far as to follow up with the resources I’ve given them, they turn instantly sympathetic.

    This video should shorten that process by a substantial margin.

  8. #8 |  Russell | 

    Great work, Radley. Keep it up.

  9. #9 |  Greg N. | 

    Nathan:

    They’re seniors, and this video prompted some of the most vigorous discussion we’ve had all year. Of course, it wasn’t a debate because everyone was similarly outraged. Afterwards I showed them a handful of the similar cases on Radley’s Overkill map, and that (rightfully) sent most of them through the roof. If I can make it happen (this is a crazy time of year for seniors; if not now, then early next (school) year), I’m going to get some clothes/books/toys for the Maye kids, and send them with a letter to Cory from our class.

  10. #10 |  Corcoran Brothers » Blog Archive » outrage about cory maye | 

    […] outrage about cory maye hat tip to the agitator. […]

  11. #11 |  Warren | 

    This could have been much better.

    It was an attempt to make a convicted killer a sympathetic character. A weepy attempt to tug at the heartstrings and get people all sad about this poor, poor man. This is something the left does, (Mumia, Tookie Williams) and it is an overplayed and irritating tactic.

    It should have been a vivisection of the State’s case. More time should have been spent going over the inconsistencies in the case and at the very least a quick listing of all that was wrong with how Cory was represented.

    Also, Bob Evans did not come across well to me. He was a bit scatter-brained on how he presented his facts. A defense forensic expert would have been nice. A couple of minutes spent demolishing just some of Hayne’s “expert” testimony would have been a lot better use of time than info about the racist C.I. that really did not add anything to the piece.

    So I give it a C+.

  12. #12 |  Mike | 

    I agree I would have liked more of a discussion of the case flaws but I think that would perhaps have been best left to an in video reference to this website or another. I suspect the point was to appeal to the masses and get the emotions flowing so that people become interested enough todo something. I more dry presentation of the facts while more informative might not spark enough interest to get anyone to follow up with anything.

    I think the racist C.I. is interesting but I do wish they had asked law inforcement how they think the CI gained access to Corey’s house. If a guy is clearly that racist I just don’t see it as credible that Cory would let him in the door.

  13. #13 |  Radley Balko | 

    #12 — That’s sort of the point. Cory didn’t let him in the door. He had no idea who Cory was until Cory’s name was on the news the next day. The guy’s lying through his teeth. When Cory’s legal team discovered his identity, he told investigators that everyone in Prentiss gets their drugs from Cory, and had been for years. Which is absurd, because Cory had only lived in Prentiss for a couple of weeks. He’s a habitually lying, drug addicted, illiterate racist. This was the guy upon whose “reliable” tip Officer Jones based his warrant for a home invasion drug raid. Worse yet, he’s been the CI for dozens of other cases over the years. The fact that he got to remain confidential means all of those other defendants never got to cross examine him.

    The point is, this warrant–and the process of obtaining it–was an absolute mess.

  14. #14 |  Ben Vernia | 

    I am one of the Covington & Burling attorneys representing Cory. I’m just writing to respond to the last posts regarding the CI, Randy Gentry. Because of ongoing appeals, I’ll limit this response to information and argument that is already in the public record in the case (virtually all of which, I think, can be found on Radley’s site).

    Randy Gentry and his brother both testified that they went to the Mary Street apartments after Randy met briefly with Prentiss Police Officer Ron Jones, and that Randy’s brother (who was unaware of the purpose of the trip) stayed in the car. The brothers’ testimony differed, however, in what happened at the apartments. Randy testified that there were two trips, and that on the second trip, he went to Jamie Smith’s door, asked for drugs, and then waited in the front yard/parking area while Smith went to Cory’s door (where he presumably obtained the drugs Randy subsequently received).

    Randy’s brother testified, though, that there was just one trip, that Randy went into Smith’s apartment, emerged a while later, got in the car, and they left. Although his car was facing the house (and only a few yards from the front), he didn’t see his brother and Smith conferring outside, and didn’t see Smith go to Cory’s door.

    Because the search warrant affidavit clearly states that the CI entered both apartments, we have argued that the warrant for Cory’s home was obtained under false pretenses. (Even Randy Gentry admitted in his testimony that he never entered Cory’s home.) We have argued that a fair inference of the testimony is that, in accordance with Randy’s brother’s testimony, Randy entered Smith’s home, purchased drugs, and then left, and that Cory was never involved in the undercover buy. When Officer Jones went to write up the search warrant application, he realized that the home was a duplex and that he didn’t know which side Smith lived on. Unable to reach Gentry, we have argued that he decided to obtain search warrants for both homes, perhaps hoping to sort it out before executing them (he had Randy Gentry’s telephone number written on the palm of his left hand, suggesting that he had been trying to contact Gentry, who was still out driving with his brother when the warrants were executed).

    I hope that helps clarify things.

  15. #15 |  Mike | 

    #13- Oh I agree, I just think that could have been expanded on in a fairly low-tech way as opposed to say tragectory analysis. I definately thought the video was well done I was just responding to #11 in his thoughts that the C.I. info didn’t add any value.

    As to what really happened, I was definately under the impression that Randy had entered both apartments. That was mindboggling to me as it certainly doesn’t seem reasonable. If hypothetically I were a drug dealer I still wouldn’t be letting Randy Gentry in my house.

  16. #16 |  Linda Morgan | 

    While it’s all interesting, if at times beside the point, the bit of information that was most arresting to me was that the bullet hole in the door jamb bears out Maye’s version of events, at least regarding his position in the room when firing on Jones. That would seem the irrefutable blow to the coroner’s speculative testimony about the trajectory of the lethal shot.

    The video leaves me curious about how the cops taking part in the raid — and any other witnesses to the raid — testified regarding police efforts to identify themselves that night. So much — everything, really — would seem to hinge on whether a reasonable person would have been aware that those were police out there coming in.
    ————-
    Only now, having written that last paragraph, do I realize I’m unclear as to whether the raid was a “no-knock” raid where — what? — Maye would have been expected to simply sit still and hope that those people breaking in were police?

    Irrespective of what Maye knew or didn’t know, hoped or couldn’t hope, when he fired the shot that killed Jones, the once metaphorical “war on drugs” has become too much a real war waged without proper respect for civil liberty or proper concern for the lives of Americans caught in the crossfire.

    I give the video a thumbs up for opening the door to lots of questions that should be answered.

  17. #17 |  Nick T | 

    Ben,

    Can you explain what type of significance the legality fo the warrant has on this case?

    Correct me if I’m wrong but this case seems to be about Mr. Maye’s intent, and whether he subjectively and reasonably believed he was defending his home from illicit intruders or whether he intentionally attacked a police officer who he knew was lawfully entering his home.

    Now, it seems the legality of the warrant goes to whether Corey should have known he was a potential target for a police raid and thus that there was a good chance the intruders were cops, but certainly even if the warrant was procedurally perfect but the (hypothetically) very reliable CI just got the address confused, then Corey would still be in the right in that he had no reason to believe he would be raided because he was not engaging in illegal activity on that level.

    Does the legality of the warrant have more significance than this? Is there some sort of per se rule or trigger that goes off if a judge rules the warrant was unlawful? I’d love to know. Thanks

  18. #18 |  Mike | 

    #17 I’ve wondered about that too. I’m not sure the validity of the warrant would have any bearing on what Cory should have known. Is the argument perhaps that the ‘cops’ at least those involved in getting the warrant, weren’t acting as police officers they were acting as intruders? So it wouldn’t matter if they announced or not they are burglars breaking into your house. If any officer not involved in the warrant process had been killed it then should have then been a felony murder charge against the Officer Jones.

  19. #19 |  Ben Vernia | 

    We raised two arguments in post-trial briefing about the legality of the warrant: First, that evidence of the fruits of the search executed using the warrant (marijuana) should have been suppressed at trial. See our Supplemental Motion, at pp. 18-28. Because the evidence indicates that Officer Jones did not possess a good faith belief in the validity of the affidavit which the local judge believed provided probable cause, the fruits of the warrant are not admissible even under a good faith reliance on the warrant.

    Second, we argued that the CI evidence contradicted Officer Jones’ “official capacity,” which is an element of a capital murder charge under Miss. Code 97-3-19. See Supp. Motion at 8-16. As we stated there, Officer Jones’ official capacity ceased when he trespassed without a valid warrant on Cory Maye’s home.

    There was no evidence at trial that Cory knew that the persons he believed were intruding on his home were, in fact, police officers. Police officers testified (in a contradictory fashion) concerning the number, nature and timing of announcements made at the home. Cory himself testified that he heard no announcement prior to Officer Jones’ entry. In addition, residents of the Smith home and police officers executing the search warrant there, after they had gained entry, did not hear announcements purportedly made outside Cory’s home.

  20. #20 |  Ben Vernia | 

    To respond to a couple of issues raised by Linda Morgan in no. 16:

    The bullet hole in the doorframe is a key piece of evidence, but it is not one which was introduced at Cory’s trial. Our shooting reconstruction expert, Larry McCann, inserted a probe in the hole (the probe is the yellow rod shown in the video) when the frame was still attached to the wall, and attached a laser pointer to the end of the probe. The laser pointed to an area of the floor corresponding precisely to Cory’s testimony regarding his position that night. This is shown in Larry’s report, Exhibit 2 to our May, 2006 motion for a new trial. We subsequently removed the door frame and introduced it in the post-trial hearing.

    Also, although knowledge and intent are a key element of the capital murder charge, the Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled that it’s not enough to prove that the defendant knew himself to be in the milieu of police, but must show that the defendant specifically knew that the person killed was a police officer acting in his or her official capacity. In Wheeler v. State, a 1988 case, police were serving an arrest warrant on the defendant when he grappled with them, gaining control of one officer’s weapon. At that moment, an officer who had gone to the rear of the home came to the front, and the defendant shot and killed her. The Supreme Court reversed the capital murder conviction because there was inadequate proof that the defendant in fact knew that the person killed was a police officer, notwithstanding the fact that he was struggling with police officers at that very moment. Under Wheeler, it would not have been enough to prove that announcements had been made outside Cory’s home. For this reason, we have argued that a judgment of acquittal should have been entered on the basis of the testimony and other evidence at trial.

  21. #21 |  Chris | 

    Agitator- I’m a new reader to your site and want to thank you for posting this story. I feel that it’s very important to gain more public awareness and support of Mr. Maye. I see that the video was posted on YouTube on Wednesday, and I’ve started to forward that to people.
    Another way of spreading the word would be for the family to set up a MySpace page for him. This method was effective in getting notice for the case of Eric Volz recently.

  22. #22 |  supercat | 

    //As we stated there, Officer Jones’ official capacity ceased when he trespassed without a valid warrant on Cory Maye’s home.//

    Maye should be completely exonerated if it can be shown that either (1) he had a reasonable belief that he was shooting at a robber, or (2) he was actually shooting at, and hit, a robber.

    Assuming we live under rule of law, rather than totalitarian anarchy, why would not the fact that Officer Jones could not have reasonably believed the warrant to have been legitimate take care of (2)?

  23. #23 |  Romantic Violence | 

    I want to ask this..how did legislators believe people would respond to the recently enacted decree of ‘no knock warrants and/or forced entries’? The ‘War on Consensual Crimes’ knows no limits. That is the basis for 75% of criminal law.

    1789

  24. #24 |  Randy | 

    I accidently found this story on the Net and it is a major heart breaker for me. I will donate and write Corey and pray for justice for him and his family!

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