The Cory Maye Case

If you haven’t been following the Cory Maye case there have been a couple of positive developments. Here is a very quick synopsis: Basically, Cory Maye is on death row in Mississippi because he shot and killed a police officer during a wrong-door raid. Maye was tried for murder and sentenced to death. However, there has been some serious efforts to get Maye off death row and the verdict over-turned.

The first bit of good news via Radley Balko is that they found the supposedly reliable confidential informant, Randy Gentry. It seems that Gentry isn’t quite as trustworthy as he was portrayed at the initial trial. After the defense team for Maye found Gentry he left the following message on Bob Evan’s, Maye’s lead attorney, answering machine,

Answering Machine:

Wednesday, 8:38 a.m.


Yeah, this is Mr. Randy Gentry. Hey, I got to thinkin’ about my friend. I got yo’ message this morning, Bob. Y’all — y’all threaten me all you want to and everything. I don’t like fuckin’ niggers from jump street but call me or whatever and I’ll — but the day I burn five cents on gas to help that fuckin’ cocksucker Cory Maye get out of jail is going to be a hell of a damn day. But — uh — if you want ot talk to me like a fuckin’ white man, you talk. But don’t threaten me on bullshit. Get your NAACP motherfuckers — I don’t give a fuck — niggers, bro, fuck niggers! But I’ll tell you what. That’s a good friend of mine they killed, buddy. I’ll — I’ll tell you anything. I’ll — I’ll be honest with you as fuckin’ gum (?) street. But I don’t like no motherfucker talkin’ shit to me or about my friends. Alright, well look here. Call me today and look here. Y’all buy my fuckin’ gas, the NAACP buy my fuckin’ gas I’ll come talk to y’all or whatever. But look here. I’m — I’m a poor-ass motherfucker too, bro. Call me. You got my fuckin’ number. Don’t piss me fuckin’ off.

Lovely, eh? I wonder how many other people Gentry has informed on that have, quite coincidentally I’m sure, have been black. And even more amusing is the fact that the prosecution is now trying to protray Gentry as unreliable and a “doper”. Apparently he was good enough to send Maye to Death Row, buuut not good enough to keep him there.

The second bit of good news is that the jugde on the case of whether or not to give Maye another trial has made one ruling that effectively gets Maye off of death row at least for the time being.

At the conclusion of the hearing today, Judge Michael Eubanks ruled on two of the defense team’s battery of arguments. Both rulings from the bench tonight dealt with Rhonda Cooper’s competence. Judge Eubanks found that Ms. Cooper was competent for the trial, but incompetent for the sentencing.

I have my quarrels with that ruling, obviously. But in the short run, it means that Cory will at the very least get a new sentencing trial. And until and if that happens, he will no longer be on death row — and for the moment is no longer condemned to die.

This is indeed good news.

Now to be sure, Maye did shoot the officer, the problem is that there is alot about the case that stinks. First, that the cops were incompetent and raided the wrong house. Second was the fact that they simply kicked in doors and whether they announced themselves is of some dispute. Further, there are additional aspects of the case that just simply stink (more here). So while Maye probably should have served some time for the shooting of the officer, the idea that he should be put to death is simply outrageous. Still, this latest news is good.

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Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. Anderson says:

    I’m skeptical that Maye should do *any* time; it seems to me very questionable that the cop (the police chief’s son, playing SWAT) properly announced himself.

    But since a jury appears to’ve found otherwise, Maye probably will end up doing some time as you say.

    Glad to see that Judge Eubanks appears to be doing the right thing thus far; I’ve got a civil case in front of him, tho I can’t pretend to know him, & he’s seemed very fair-minded (even when we didn’t want him to be).

  2. Steve Verdon says:

    My hope Anderson, is that if they decide he should (have) serve(d) time they’ll take the time he’s already served and let him go. Of course, that is putting the cart before the horse, but I have to say this result does make me hopeful.

  3. slickdpdx says:

    Excuse me for not knowing a lot about this case, but if cops hit the wrong house, what does the informant have to do with anything?

    I agree that its not a fact pattern I’d expect for a death penalty case, but I wasn’t on the jury.

  4. Anderson says:

    The dead cop was the police chief’s son (both white, of course); it’s in rural Miss. (Prentiss is pretty rural, trust me); 10 whites on the jury. The death penalty was a given.

    In the “good old days,” Maye would’ve been lynched by now. Who says Miss. hasn’t made progress?

  5. Steve Verdon says:

    I believe that goes to the reliability issue. If the guy isn’t reliable, or gives the wrong information based on race then….

  6. slickdpdx says:

    I also think the coverage of this issue is colored too much by underlying attitudes about the “drug war.” It could have been another crime and the same thing could have happened; warrants aren’t served in drug cases only. Most warrants rely on a scuzzball because that’s who knows what is going on.

    The informant’s race-hate thing is an interesting angle, but the appeal (rimshot!) is as irrational (if less harmful) as the assumed irrationality of the “ten whites” jury who made such a grave decision based on the race of the players.

    The police didn’t go to the house that the hater told them to go to. How is the haters hate especially relevant? The case against Maye is about what the police and Maye did when they went to the wrong house. If this was a case against Maye for possessing drugs, the hate might be relevant to the validity of the warrant and, if a judge believed the informant lacked reliability it could lead to the exclusion of the drugs, whether they executed the warrant at the proper address or not, but in the murder case its not relevant. I suppose you could make an argument in the civil case against the PD that they negligently relied on the informant and this wouln’t have happened but for.

    The Gentry hate angle is really inflammatory while it has extremely limited relevance.

  7. John says:

    So while Maye probably should have served some time for the shooting of the officer,

    He shot an illegal, armed intruder. Give Maye a medal and send him home.

  8. Anderson says:

    Slick, I hear ya, but wasn’t Gentry’s the sole evidence (other than the alleged joint at Maye’s place, & don’t those have a way of falling out of cops’ pockets?) tying Maye to any drug-dealing at all?

  9. slickdpdx says:

    I think the “relevance” is this. Ten white jurors + Gentry = racist injustice.

  10. Steve Verdon says:

    No slick, I don’t think it is just that. Did you read Balko’s interview with one of the jurors? The woman clearly had no idea of what reasonable doubt was, indicated that part of the reason she convicted might have been the dislike for Maye’s attorney, etc. It is pretty scary that a woman like that gets to make this kind of decision.

    Then there was the behavior towards the lead attorney. To call it intimidation is more than a bit of an understatement. The fact that the real drug dealer they were supposedly after just disappeared. In most cases where you have a wrong door raid, the actual target is usually arrested, and peacefully, by a couple of cops knocking on the right door and taking the suspect into custody.

  11. Steve Verdon says:

    Here you go Slick. Why it is almost as if Radley was reading your comments here. Basically, ther eis no oversight as to what constitutes a “reliable informant”. You are right that these guys might be skuzzballs in that they are often involved in the nefarious activities they are ratting out. But if a guy has been reliable say only 25% of the time, then is he really reliable? Turns out that Judge Kruger’s test of reliability was, “Gentry’s information lead to one previous arrest.” Nevermind that out of say 100 tips he was right only a handful of times [note, I don’t know how reliable Gentry is, but that goes to issue at hand doesn’t it].

    Further, this bit of information Radley got from somebody local is quite telling,

    Look, I know this fella and you’re right, he is unreliable and not very credible. Very much a racist. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard “hate niggers” come out of his mouth. Credibility should be thrown right out. Ask Mr. Gentry about his music tapes he has about bashing blacks. I am telling you this man is totally out to get blacks. He has stated in the past he would rat out a “nigger” in a heart beat. He is just a senile old man. Good luck.

    Yep, that is who I’d want as an informant when I build a case…and since it was only Gentry that put the cops out there and in Maye’s house, then it looks even worse, IMO. Is it inflammatory? Sure as Hell is, but it would be no matter what because it looks very much like Gentry is a good old fashion racist.

  12. slickdpdx says:

    Gentry=racist doesn’t get you to jury was racist or even cops=racist. However, if you can show Gentry was an unreliable informant it might help you get to cops=sloppy.

    I read the Balko links. I was impressed with his actually getting out there and pounding the pavement. I was less impressed with his amateur speculation about ballistics evidence and harassing of the jurors (just the black ones?) But, I agree that this is not a case that should have been a death penalty prosecution or verdict, so I wish him good luck in that.

  13. Steph says:



    Wow cops come to the wrong house so this worthless subhuman piece of dog dirt is justified in shooting them?

    YOU ALL DESERVE TO DIE. HAve done nothing in your lives and only stop raping kids to post here.

    You hate cops. I hate criminals.

    It has nothing to do with the piece of trash’s race. HE KILLED A COP!

    Simple as this. Let the worthless piece of trash cop killer move next door to you.


  14. Anderson says:

    Got issues, Steph? Oh yes you do.

  15. TJIT says:

    Paging Dr lithium and Dr. Haldol. Dr lithium and Dr. haldol please report to Steph’s comment and render assistance.