Remy Ma, whose meteoric rise as a rap star ended with the shooting of a friend outside a nightclub during a dispute over $3,000, lost an appeal of her eight-year prison sentence Thursday.
The decision by the state's highest court ended the one-time star's attempt to overturn assault and weapon possession convictions that her lawyer argued were the result of unfair direction from the trial judge.
The trial judge, state Supreme Court Judge Rena Uviller, had called the rapper "a young woman whose anger is out of control." At sentencing, Remy Ma _ whose real name is Remy Smith _ cried over her violent upbringing in poverty in New York City and for her young son and her fiance, rapper Papoose.
The victim, Madeda Joseph, and Remy Ma were celebrating a birthday with friends in July 2007 at the Pizza Bar in Manhattan's trendy meatpacking district when the rapper accused Joseph of stealing $3,000 from her pocketbook.
Remy Ma, gun in hand, demanded to search Joseph's purse when they were both in the front seat of the victim's Cadillac Escalade. Joseph refused, and a struggle began. The gun went off twice, with two bullets hitting Joseph in the abdomen. There was testimony in court that Remy Ma fled without calling for police or medical attention.
Remy Ma, who is currently serving her prison sentence, appealed her convictions on assault, weapons possession and coercion charges. She said the trial judge should have allowed her attorney to argue during his summation that Joseph could have been shot as both women struggled over the gun.
The defense claimed the judge's decision to disallow that argument violated Remy Ma's constitutional right to mount a defense, leaving the jury with a question of only whether she shot Joseph intentionally or accidentally.
A mid-level appeals court had affirmed the trial judge's actions. It ruled the judge properly prevented the defense attorney from suggesting an alternate scenario "that would have required the jury to draw excessively speculative inferences from the evidence."
The Court of Appeals' 5-2 decision Thursday found the trial judge's instruction, on the whole, was proper, though one sentence wasn't accurate. The trial judge told jurors that if they found the victim's testimony truthful and accurate, "her testimony without any other eyewitness to what happened inside the car, under the law, satisfies the proof beyond a reasonable doubt."
But the Court of Appeals ruled that the charge to the jury before and after that sentence made it clear that "the central duty of the jury was to decide whether the charged crimes had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt."
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said the court's decision is "a reminder that gun-related violence severely impacts the lives of both the perpetrators and their victims. Keeping guns off our streets is and will remain one of my top priorities."
Defense attorney Richard Ware Levitt said he was exploring opportunities for appeals in state and federal courts.
Remy Ma was nominated for a Grammy as part of Terror Squad for the 2004 smash "Lean Back." She had also performed with Busta Rhymes and Eminem.