Two executives of Baton Rouge-based rap music label Trill Entertainment pleaded guilty Friday to battery charges involving a rival local rapper and two other men, putting an end to a criminal case that began more than six years ago.
State District Judge Mike Erwin put Melvin Vernell Jr., 38, and Marcus Roach, 37, on probation for two years under the terms of a plea agreement with the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office.
"A good resolution,'' Roach's attorney, Lewis Unglesby, said after court.
"We're glad it's over with,'' added James Manasseh, who represents Vernell.
Vernell and Roach, formerly of Baton Rouge and Prairieville, respectively, each pleaded guilty to aggravated battery of rapper Bruce "Beelow'' Moore on July 4, 2005.
Moore was shot in front of Shop Smart Music and Fashion, a store he owned on North Sherwood Forest Drive. He survived the shooting.
Vernell also pleaded guilty to simple battery of Demond Eames outside the store.
Roach pleaded guilty to simple battery of Timothy Carter outside a Piggly Wiggly store on Choctaw Drive shortly before the incident at Shop Smart.
Prosecutor Charles Grey told Erwin the victims also wanted the case resolved.
Erwin sentenced Vernell and Roach to credit for time served on the aggravated battery charge.
The judge gave Vernell and Roach suspended six-month prison terms on their simple battery charges and put them on probation for two years.
Both men now live in Atlanta.
In a related but separate case, Baton Rouge lawyer Peter Q. John is accused of interfering in the criminal investigation into Moore's shooting by allegedly plotting to have the 2005 charges against Vernell and Roach dismissed.
John has pleaded innocent to charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and felony theft.
Prosecutors charged Vernell and Roach in September 2005 with attempted second-degree murder, armed robbery and illegal use of weapons, but the charges were dismissed in September 2006 at the request of Moore, Carter and Eames.
Prosecutors filed new charges against the men in May 2009, charging them with not only attempted second-degree murder, armed robbery and illegal use of weapons but also aggravated battery, aggravated assault with a firearm and possession of an illegal firearm by a convicted felon.