Teen who threatened Pa. cops in rap gets 2-6 years
The judge made it clear the 2-6 year sentence was not about the song, but about endangering cops and the public
By Paula Reed Ward
PITTSBURGH — Jamal Knox repeatedly asked the judge about to sentence him to treat him like a human being and not a rapper.
"I don't want the court to look at me as Mayhem Mal," Knox said. "As a rapper, you have to put on an image. Like, my business is a product. It's not just Jamal Knox being a rapper. My product is Mayhem Mal.
"I want the court to look at me as Jamal Knox, a human being."
Knox, the human being, was sentenced to two to six years in prison Thursday to be followed by two years' probation for possession with intent to deliver, intimidation of witnesses, terroristic threats, fleeing and eluding and driving without a license.
He, along with co-defendant Rashee Beasley, received notoriety when they were arrested in November 2012 for publishing a rap video online that investigators said threatened two Pittsburgh police officers who were involved in arresting the men seven months earlier. It also included references to Richard Poplawski, who was convicted of killing three city officers in 2009.
The district attorney's office charged the men with intimidating and threatening the officers.
Beasley, 22, of Garfield, and Knox, 19, of East Liberty were found guilty in November in a nonjury trial by Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning of Allegheny County.
When it came time to sentence Knox, Judge Manning said the punishment had nothing to do with free speech.
"Mr. Knox, perhaps you think this is all about the song," the judge said. "Believe me, it isn't. It's about fleeing and eluding and endangering the lives of police officers, members of the public, running stop signs and being in possession with intent to deliver drugs."
Knox apologized to his family and the Pittsburgh police. He also told assistant district attorney Rachel Fleming, "I don't want you to look at us as gangsters or anything. We just make music."
Beasley, who submitted letters to the court because he said he had "stage fright" speaking in front of large groups, was sentenced to one to three years in prison to be followed by two years' probation. He was not found guilty of any drug charges.
Knox told Judge Manning that he took full responsibility for his actions but also said he never intended for the rap video to be posted on YouTube, and that he was not responsible for it.
Knox also said he never intended to hurt any police officers, including those specifically called out in the song from Zone 5.
"Honest to God, no one was supposed to hear the song."
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