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Rap Pioneer Kidd Creole Found Guilty of Manslaughter in Death of Homeless Man

On Wednesday, a Manhattan jury needed little time finding rap pioneer Kidd Creole guilty of first-degree manslaughter for stabbing a homeless man to death more than four years ago. The panel reached its decision just hours after lawyers on both sides presented their closing arguments. When the verdict was announced, Glover dropped his head, a courtroom source tells Rolling Stone.

The artist, whose legal name is Nathaniel Glover, rose to fame in the early 1980s as an original member of landmark hip-hop collective Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. He had lived a much quieter life in recent years, working at a copy shop and living alone in a small apartment in the Bronx, NY. His descent into made-for-tabloid infamy unfolded on August 1, 2017, when he encountered John Jolly, a 55-year-old homeless man, on the street in midtown Manhattan.

“I should have just kept going,” Glover, now 62, said to himself one day after the stabbing, while waiting for a police interview to begin. “I should have just kept going.”

He was on his way to work when he had a run-in with Jolly. Glover stabbed Jolly, who died at the hospital shortly thereafter. The next day, New York City police arrested Glover and charged him with second-degree murder.

In a videotaped interview with police following the stabbing, Glover claimed he became irritated after thinking that Jolly was trying to pick him up. “To tell the truth, I thought he was gay and because I thought he was gay, and he was saying that to me, ‘what’s up,’ I was thinking that he was thinking [that] I was gay,” Glover said. “So I was a little annoyed by that.

“He approached me. I got a little nervous,” Glover claimed. So then I tried to back up a little bit, and he moved forward, and then I just took the knife and stabbed him … I wish I never would have seen him. It’s all my fault, because I chose to stab him. I have to take responsibility for that.”

When Glover made those statements, he did not know at the time that Jolly’s injuries were fatal. Since his arrest, Glover has since been held in the notorious Rikers Island jail complex.

When the prosecution and defense presented closing arguments in Glover’s case, they reiterated their dueling claims. Prosecutors contended that Glover didn’t have any reason to fear Jolly, let alone kill him. They alleged during openings that Glover’s actions might have stemmed from homophobia. Glover’s team has insisted that he stabbed Jolly out of fear. They also argued that Jolly, who was intoxicated, died from the combination of alcohol and a sedative administered at the hospital.

Prosecutors presented excerpts of the video interview during the nearly two-week trial, meaning jurors saw Glover’s account of the incident in his own words.

Glover’s lawyer, Scottie Celestin, said in his closing that cops and prosecutors acted hastily — deciding he was guilty without weighing all the facts. “They did the perp walk. They paraded him in front of the camera,” and then, “That’s it.”

“The devil is in the details,” Celestin said, arguing that medical records provided years after Jolly’s death didn’t support the claim that he died from stab wounds. Rather than admit they had erred, prosecutors “doubled down because no one is going to say they made a mistake.”

“It’s human nature. They are human, doing self-preservation … It’s hard to say that you made a mistake — especially in this type of case where they already paraded Mr. Glover before the media,” Celestin continued.

The prosecution’s witnesses testified “through the lens” of helping the government rather than with integrity — from the paramedic who treated Jolly to the pathologist who reviewed his autopsy. “Everyone’s testimony is tainted and slanted,” Celesin claimed, later saying, “All these witnesses are being evasive and dodging the questions.”

“I told you, ladies and gentleman, at the beginning of this trial that you’re either going to find the prosecution either incompetent or malicious— and at this point, it’s both,” he said.

Celestin then pointed to the question of motive: Did Glover have any motive to kill or seriously harm Jolly? “You don’t have to go any further than Mr. Glover’s own statements. “He repeatedly says, ‘I didn’t want to hurt him. I just didn’t want him to hurt me. Look at the video. He’s being honest. He’s being truthful.”

Glover, who wore a suit and kept his hair in a braid, was turned slightly toward the jury during closings. He appeared to be attentive.

Prosecutor Mark Dahl contended in his closing that Celestin’s summations were just another example of “hiding what’s so obviously true” — that Glover killed Jolly in a senseless act of violence. The prosecution’s witnesses had no reason to lie about Jolly’s cause of death. None of them know Glover. None of them have any stake in the case. Why would any of them want to further a “conspiracy,” Dahl asked.

At various junctures during Dahl’s nearly two-hour closing, he gestured emphatically and made noises to illustrate his point. He moved his hands to symbolize a two-liter soda bottle so jurors understood how much blood allegedly drained from Jolly’s body. Dahl then pantomimed turning the bottle over. “Imagine the floor here,” he said. “How much this would be covered.”

Dahl also gesticulated when arguing that Glover’s actions were intentional. A person might jump back reflexively when scared, Dahl said, bounding backward. But a person who lifts their fists in this situation decides to lift their fists, Dahl continued, raising his hands like a boxer. A person might lift their leg without thinking, he said, but that’s different than kicking.

The same principle applied when Glover stabbed Jolly. Lifting hands defensively is one thing — and entirely different than using a knife, Dahl said. “This, ladies and gentleman,” Dahl said, winding back and stabbing the air with a blue pen, “is intentional.”

All of the evidence proves that Glover killed Jolly “in cold blood,” Dahl said.

Glover is scheduled to be sentenced on May 4. He faces a maximum of 25 years in prison.


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