Two accused members of a 9th Ward drug gang have admitted to their roles in the double-murder of popular local bounce rapper Renatta “Magnolia Shorty” Lowe and Jerome “Man-Man” Hampton in 2010, according to newly unsealed federal court records.
Tyrone “Biscuit” Knockum, 25, and Rico “Freaky” Jackson, 33, both admitted to being among five gang members who were present when four of them opened fire on Lowe and Hampton in the parking lot of a New Orleans East apartment complex just after noon Dec. 20, 2010.
Last year, another man, Gregory “Rabbit” Stewart, pleaded guilty in the case and received a life prison term, admitting among other crimes that he was among those who fired on the pair as they sat in a Chevy Malibu.
Lowe accelerated the car down the 6300 block of Bridgehampton Drive as the shooting erupted and crashed into a wooden fence. She and Hampton died at the scene, where police found more than 50 spent shell casings.
Knockum and Jackson were among 13 defendants named in a federal racketeering indictment in June centered on the “39’ers” gang. Federal prosecutors said the group united members of a drug ring known as “G-Strip” with those of “3NG,” a street gang named for its turf around Third and Galvez streets.
The unsealed records show that Knockum pleaded guilty in June, contingent on federal prosecutors not pursuing the death penalty against him for the murders of Lowe and Hampton.
Knockum admitted driving a white Ford Crown Victoria with four others — Stewart, Jackson, Terrioues “T-Red” Owney and McCoy “Rat” Walker — on a hunt for Hampton, according to a charging document underpinning his guilty plea.
Knockum and Jackson admitted the group was gunning for Hampton, who was “a member of a rival drug gang and had a well-earned reputation for being a killer,” the document says. They were concerned that Hampton was planning to kill alleged 3NG associate Merle Offray.
While the car contained a small arsenal, Knockum was unarmed, according to prosecutors. Still, he admitted “that he was a member of the 3NG gang and an associate of the 39ers and that he participated in a conspiracy (with these gang members) to sell crack cocaine and heroin.”
He also “freely admits that he aided and abetted” the other four “in looking for and killing Renatta Lowe and Jerome Hampton,” the document says.
Knockum agreed also to plead guilty to state charges against him in exchange for a 20-year sentence, to be served in federal prison. A date for his sentencing has not been set.
Jackson, who pleaded guilty in October, admitted to being armed with an SKS semi-automatic assault weapon during the attack on Lowe and Hampton.
Jackson admitted “that he participated in the murder of Jerome Hampton with his associates in an effort to protect their drug turf, to retaliate against a rival drug dealer, and for the purpose of maintaining and increasing his position in the gang,” the charging document states.
Jackson claimed Hampton had earlier threatened to kill him. He said Lowe “was not the target of this crime but happened to get killed as she was in the car with Hampton.”
Hampton was believed to be an associate of Ivory Brandon “B-Stupid” Harris, who admitted to the 2006 murder of Jermaine “Manny” Wise on Fat Tuesday and is serving a 25-year sentence. Police had suspected Hampton of being the getaway driver in that murder, but the charges against him were dropped.
Hampton also had been charged in Texas in a killing that authorities considered revenge for the 2003 murder of rapper James “Soulja Slim” Tapp, according to a Times-Picayune report. Tapp had grown up with Lowe and reportedly came up with her stage name.
Jackson faces a mandatory life prison term, which he will serve behind federal bars as part of his plea deal. He pleaded guilty to the main racketeering count in the indictment, as well as two counts of murder in aid of racketeering.
Another accused 39’er, Washington “Dumplin’ ” McCaskill, pleaded guilty in February, according to the unsealed records. His guilty pleas, also contingent on prosecutors declining the death penalty, relate to the separate murders of Floyd Moore and Michael Marshall in 2011.
As part of his deal, McCaskill also agreed to plead guilty in state court to three manslaughter counts for the killings of Lester Foster, Charles Anderson and Lester Allen, with an 80-year sentence attached.
He entered those guilty pleas in March, saying, “I just want to apologize to the families for the guys I killed. That’s all.”
Charges against Walker and Owney, the two others accused in the murders of Lowe and Hampton, remain pending.
Owney’s attorney could not be reached.
Walker’s attorney, John Herr Musser, described the admissions by the other defendants as self-serving.
“It’s obvious they are trying to justify a reduction in their own sentences by fabricating stories about other defendants,” he said.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.