Rapper Widner “Flow” Degruy walked into a New Orleans courtroom in chains Tuesday, muttered loudly and flipped manila folders off a desk, successfully stalling his sentencing hearing for a few minutes.
But the theatrics weren't enough for Degruy to avoid the inevitable: two life terms behind bars.
Criminal District Court Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier handed down the mandatory sentences after hearing a statement from the mother of brothers Kendrick and Kendred Bishop.
Jurors voted 11-1 last month to convict Degruy, 27, of two counts of second-degree murder in the brothers’ shooting deaths early on Memorial Day 2015.
“They were our heart, until you ripped that away from us,” the boys’ mother, Sherry Strauss, said in a statement read by a prosecutor. “Maybe your parents didn't love you enough like you wanted, but our boys were well-loved, and you knew it.”
During the weeklong trial, prosecutors presented a picture of a defendant well acquainted with one of his victims. They said Degruy, a rapper signed to Lil Wayne’s Young Money label, was a friend of fellow rapper Kendrick Bishop, who was 22.
However, Degruy suspected that Kendrick and Kendred, 18, had stolen $8,000 in cash and a gun from him a week before the killings, according to prosecutors.
On the night before the shootings, all four attended a Lil Wayne concert in Alabama and then returned to New Orleans East.
Police found Degruy’s cellphone on the ground near the rental car where the Bishops’ bullet-riddled bodies were found in the 4800 block of Bright Drive.
After he was taken in for questioning, Degruy gave a series of conflicting statements to police about what he did just before the killing.
Halfway through his closing argument in a New Orleans courtroom on Monday, defense attorney Gary Wainwright flashed a thick wad of $100 bills …
When he took the stand, Degruy denied any role in the shooting and pinned it on his co-defendant, Jonathan Evans.
He claimed that Evans dropped the phone. But Evans, a state witness, said Degruy left the device by mistake after the pair shot the brothers.
“I am glad that you were a sloppy murderer. I am glad that we received closure, because that's something that most families don't,” Strauss said in her statement.
Strauss said she still doubted that the attack happened because Degruy suspected her sons stole from him. “I will never know the real reason you chose to kill our boys, and that hurts my soul,” she said.
Evans, now 22, received a 20-year sentence in exchange for his agreement to testify at Degruy's trial and in another case.
During hours on the stand Friday night, Widner “Flow” Degruy, a rapper signed to Lil Wayne’s Young Money label, insisted that he played no par…
Degruy’s defense attorney, Gary Wainwright, derided that as a sweetheart deal. A life sentence normally is mandatory for murderers.
The Bishops’ parents said prosecutors did not notify them of the deal with Evans before he pleaded guilty in October 2015, which disappointed them. But they said they were satisfied with his testimony at the trial and the outcome of the case.
“I was dissatisfied with the time that he did get, but I was real satisfied when he testified. His testimony is a lot of what I think helped us win this case,” Kendrick Bishop Sr. said after the hearing.
Assistant District Attorneys Alex Calenda and Irena Zajickova prosecuted the case. District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said they did a "fantastic" job prosecuting Degruy.
“We strive to keep crime victims and their families informed throughout each case. But the issue of a co-defendant’s decision to cooperate in a prosecution is a sensitive matter, and immediate notification to all interested parties is not always possible. Our goal is to achieve justice, and that goal was attained in this case," Cannizzaro said.
Both parents were quick to note that Kendrick Jr. never signed a record deal with Degruy. “I don't even want to give him that much credit,” Bishop said.
Wainwright said Degruy intends to appeal.
Jonathan “Lil’ Joe” Evans said that as he huddled in a doorway with the rapper Widner “Flow” Degruy getting ready to shoot two brothers, Degru…