Meek Mill ends court battle with negotiated guilty plea, all other charges dropped

KYW Staff
August 27, 2019 - 7:37 am

UPDATED: 11:20 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Meek Mill is a free man, after negotiating a plea deal with the city's district attorney and resolving a case that's kept him on probation for most of his adult life. 

Dressed in a green graphic button-down shirt, Mill, real name Robert Rihmeek Williams, pleaded guilty to a single weapons charge: possession of an instrument in a crime. In exchange, he will not serve any more time after already having spent a total of about two years in prison.

This 12-year ordeal is now over for the rapper, who grew up in Strawberry Mansion. 

"I know this has been a long road for you, and hopefully this will be the end of it," Judge Leon Tucker told the rapper.

Tucker told Mill they both went to the same high school. He said, "You represent the community I live in, I grew up in. People depend on you now."

Mill thanked the judge, but Tucker told him not to thank him but that he should thank his lawyers, and that he benefited from this ordeal both "financially and otherwise."

Meek was convicted of several gun and drug charges in 2009 during a bench trial under controversial judge Genece Brinkley. He went to prison. He got out and had a series of probation violations. Then Brinkley put him back in jail. 

But the 32-year-old’s defense team fought back and eventually went to Pennsylvania Superior Court to get a new trial, claiming the cop who originally testified had lied on the stand. 

District Attorney Larry Krasner's office had supported Williams' appeal and said it could not call the former officer to testify after an internal probe found he'd stolen money on duty and lied about it.

"(The state) cannot call a witness whose credibility it mistrusts," prosecutors wrote in a legal brief this year.

The officer, Reginald Graham, has denied the allegations.

The higher court overturned the conviction last month and granted the new trial, removing Brinkley and freeing Mill from her scrutiny. 

Krasner's office then had to decide whether to retry him or try to negotiate a plea. 

Mill was greeted and surrounded by some of his most passionate supporters outside when he exited the Criminal Justice Center. Crews had installed a stage and sound system with barricades on the street. Mill took to the podium on the stage to thank his fans and to promise he would continue to fight for millions of other people who face the same issues he has but who aren't in the same spotlight.

He has become an activist for criminal justice reform, working with Jay-Z and others, since he was sent back to prison in 2017 for technical violations he blamed on his erratic travel schedule as his career soared. 

"He's never been an adult not on probation. This is the first day of his life. Thirty-two years old, and he's beginning a life," said Joe Tacopina, one of Mill's attorneys speaking outside the courthouse.

"Justice delayed was not justice denied," Tacopina said. "Meek has always admitted what he did. From when he was a teenager he admitted it. And obviously part of reform is he appreciates and accepts responsibility for what he did and he understands that it's not good to carry guns. It's not obviously an anti-gun crusade, but certainly he's someone who had a just cause and a reason in his mind at the time for his own safety. But he's never condoned guns on the street."

His attorney Brian McMonagle said there are longer-term ramifications beyond this case. 

"We're gonna rethink everything we've ever thought before. That's the beauty of this case, and that's what Meek stands for," McMonagle said. "And I have no doubt he's gonna take the judge's words and do brilliant things and reform this system like we've never seen it before. I look around here and I say it's a new world."

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KYW Newsradio's Cherri Gregg, Tim Jimenez and Kristen Johanson, and the Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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