The rap star who has been in jail since turning himself in to Shreveport authorities in August 2017 today faced a new judge.
Michael “Mystikal’ Tyler, charged with 1st Degree Rape and 2nd Degree Kidnapping that allegedly happened in October 2016, went before Caddo District Judge Charles Tutt today. Tyler has been held on $2 Million, increased to $3 Million, bond since he turned himself in to Caddo Correctional Center in August 2017 after learning a warrant had been sworn out for his arrest.
Tutt, was transferred to Criminal Court on Jan. 1 after serving in Drug Court and Family Court since he took office in January 2015. Prior to his election to the bench, Tutt represented insurance companies in civil litigation.
In December, Caddo District Judge Ramona Emanuel, who has presided over Tyler’s case since September 2017, ruled in favor of a defense motion to recuse her from the case, which was transferred to Section 3, where Tutt now presides.
Tyler, whose defense team is now led by local attorney Joel Pearce, who enrolled in late November.
Most of today’s back-and-forth between Pearce, Caddo Assistant District Attorney Bill Edwards and Tutt concerned discovery – the evidence Pearce says the district attorney has, and that he needs to prove his client’s innocence.
While Tutt ruled in favor of a motion by the District Attorney’s office to release part of the grand jury testimony in Tyler’s case to defense attorneys, he narrowed it in scope to only the three attorneys working on Tyler’s defense team.
Pearce noted that in the grand jury hearing that ended in the rape and kidnapping charges against Tyler, the investigator of the alleged sexual assault testified, but the alleged victim did not. That, Pearce said, boils down to “hearsay.”
The new defense team said they plan to file a motion requesting the investigating officer in the case testify in open court so they would like to ask their own questions, but Edwards said if that happens, prosecutors will oppose it, as the investigator has already testified.
In addition, Pearce asked that any evidence the district attorney’s office might have from social media posts be turned over to the defense team, but Edwards, assistant DA, said there is none.
Pearce countered that there is “significant exculpatory” evidence in messenger, Facebook, text messages and other social media, and asked the judge for permission to use it.
Tutt told Pearce, “If you get it, that’s fine with me.”
Other things the defense team hopes to get are mental health records recorded by SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) at the time the rape allegations were made.
Roxanne Hernandez, a friend of Tyler’s who lives in San Antonio, was in the courtroom today, as she has been for most of Tyler’s hearings over the past year-and-a-half.
She said she met Tyler around eight years ago when she worked in radio in Mississippi, and he had become good friends with her family and doted on her 12-year-old son.
Tyler doted on her son, Hernandez said, even tailoring an afternoon appearance just for him, taking out every curse word so he could be there. She said she speaks with Tyler on the phone a few times a week.
Pearce said the year-and-a-half incarceration has been difficult for the rap star, as his bond was too high to get out of jail during the lead-up to the trial.
Tyler, Pearce said, has five children he has been unable to see, and he is depressed.