YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Following a last-ditch effort by the defense attorney to save her client, jurors in Hackensack today convicted a Brooklyn man of killing aspiring rapper Kampane, setting his body on fire in an empty Englewood house and then leaving the corpse in an SUV parked on a quiet Paramus street.
Jurors deliberated for nearly seven days before returning a guilty verdict of murder and other charges against Randy Manning in the killing of Rhian “Kampane” Stoute.
Manning chatted with his lawyer and others before the jurors came in just before 12:30 p.m.. He kept the same tight-lipped expression he had during the trial then looked down as the guilty verdicts mounted ( photo, above ).
Stoute’s family members smiled broadly and hugged one another — two even embraced a reporter.
About 20 family members attended the two-month trial over the last two weeks. Stout’s mother and cousin were there for every proceeding, including motions, from the very beginning.
The same jury yesterday returned not-guilty verdicts on weapons and obstruction charges against co-defendant Delroy Clarke.
Today, they convicted Manning of murder, possession of a hangun with the intent to cause bodily harm or death, desecration of human remains, moving the body, concealing evidence, giving police false information and stealing Stoute’s SUV.
He was found not guilty of felony murder, burglary and witness tampering. Manning also was convicted of one arson charge and acquitted of the other.
After the verdict was announced, Superior Court Judge Edward A. Jerejian polled each juror individually in response to defense attorney Tana McPherson’s contention that she overheard them “exchanging pleasantries” with a detective this morning when he wheeled the evidence cart into the jury room.
McPherson claimed inappropriate influence because the detective testified during the trial.
Jerejian rejected her request for a mistrial and told her the timing was off.
“If you had a question, you should have addressed it at the time you saw this, either with the court clerk or a court officer, and not waited until the verdict was ready and the jury about to come into the courtroom,” he told McPherson.
Under the No Early Release Act, Manning is looking at a maximum sentence of 64 years before he’s eligible for parole on the murder conviction alone. The other convictions could add more time — particularly the weapons offenses. He will be sentenced on May 30.
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer thanked the jury for “the careful attention they gave to our case.”
“I was extremely confident in the evidence we had,” she said. “The verdict was a result of the totality of the case, and not any one piece of evidence.”
“It’s my life’s work and passion,” Grootenboer said during a brief interview after the verdicts were read, “but whenever I do a murder case I’m always mindful. Rhian Stoute is still dead, and his family will forever deal with that.
Asked about Manning’s motive, which was never explained, she said: “Every murder is senseless. There is no way to fashion or fathom logic out of something as senseless as murder.”
Grootenboer also thanked “all of the members of law enforcement who were involved in this case – the Paramus and Englewood police, the investigators from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.
“They are the most tenacious and dedicated team I have ever worked with, and I thank all of them for their efforts.”
Grootenboer said during the trial that Manning’s brother, Cory, told investigators that he saw his brother emerge from the rear of a Tryon Avenue house in Englewood where Kampane’s body had been burned on Aug. 15, 2011. As the two talked, they said he told them, Randy Manning displayed a .40-caliber automatic Glock handgun in his waistband.
A day or two later, he said he saw Clarke with the same gun, prosecutors said.
Cory Manning recanted on the witness stand during the trial, however, saying his statement was coerced.
Prosecutors said the Glock was used to kill Stoute, who they said was hit by four bullets — including one that entered his right shoulder and tore through his heart. The gun was never recovered.
They said Manning set fire to the body in an attempt to destroy the evidence, then returned to the house the next day and moved it in Stoute’s SUV to Village Circle West in Paramus,.
Prosecutors presented records of cellphone calls made among Randy Manning, Clarke and Manning’s girlfriend, Natuchka Etienne; eyewitness testimony of a Paramus neighbor who said he saw Manning leave Stoute’s car, with his body in it, on Village Square West; a bloody footprint on boxes that were found under Stoute’s body in the Tahoe, and clothing tied to the murder that was recovered from a Brooklyn storm drain.
The sweatshirt matches one that a Paramus witness said he saw the man running from the Tahoe wearing after the vehicle was abandoned, she said.
Manning, a national of Trinidad and Tobago, used to live on Belmont Street in Englewood before moving to Brooklyn.
His defense lawyer, Tana McPherson, focused during the trial on various aspects of the investigation, including an interrogation by detectives that she said lasted 20 hours.
“They get right up in your face, ‘You did it, you did it, we know you’re guilty, you’re going to prison, you’re a liar’ – not once, not twice – but 50 times,” she told jurors during her opening argument.
She said mounting threats of having his girlfriend jailed affected him and that his confession in some cases was inconsistent with the evidence.
Randy Manning and Stoute spent the day before the killing shopping together at malls in Paramus, prosecutors said.
Sometime after the two broke into the Englewood house, they said, Manning shot Stoute several times in the head and chest, then set a fire to try and destroy the evidence.
Prosecutors said Manning took off in Stoute’s black 2001 Chevy Tahoe after the killing, heading to Brooklyn, then returned the next day and put it in the rear cargo area.
He “randomly selected” Village Circle West in Paramus and abandoned the SUV there, they said.
As he ran from the Tahoe, prosecutors said, Manning tossed clothing and other evidence. They said he then walked up to Route 4 and Forest Avenue, where he called and was picked up by Clarke.
A neighbor called Paramus police just before 8 that morning to report a suspicious vehicle with New York license plates on the block. Looking through its windows, the responding officers could see Kampane’s body.
YESTERDAY ( YOU READ IT HERE FIRST): Jurors remained deadlocked this afternoon in the trial of a Brooklyn man charged with killing rapper Kampane, setting his body on fire in an empty Englewood house and then leaving the corpse in an SUV parked on a Paramus cul-de-sac. READ MORE ….
STORY / COURTROOM PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
* * * * *
CLIFFVIEW PILOT BROKE THE STORIES:
Surprises open trial in Englewood murder of rapper Kampane:
The key witness for prosecutors in the trial of a man charged with killing rapper Kampane, setting his body on fire in an empty Englewood house and then leaving the corpse in an SUV parked on a Paramus cul-de-sac will be the defendant’s own brother.
READ MORE ….
- Trial set in Englewood murder of rapper Kampane: The man accused of murdering rapper Kampane, setting his body on fire in an empty Englewood house and then leaving the corpse in an SUV parked on a Paramus cul-de-sac will go to trial in January. READ MORE….
- Kampane’s accused killer claims Miranda rights violation: A judge in Hackensack is expected to rule on whether the man accused of murdering rapper Kampane, burning his body and then leaving it in a car on a Paramus side street was properly read his rights before being questioned by police. READ MORE…
- Arrests in murder of rapper Kampane: An ex-con shot the rapper Kampane in the head in a vacant Englewood house, torched the place, then went back to the scene the next day, removed the charred body and left it in the rear cargo of the victim’s SUV on a quiet Paramus street, say authorities who arrested him and two accused accomplices. READ MORE….
- Autopsy confirms rapper Kampane shot before body burned: T he rapper Kampane was shot in the head and killed, then torched in a vacant Englewood apartment, by a former city resident who later went back to the scene, removed the charred body and left it in the rear cargo of the victim’s SUV on a Paramus street, say authorities who arrested him and two accused accomplices. READ MORE….
- Burned body of rapper Kampane found in car in Paramus: The man whose burned body was found in the cargo area of an SUV on a quiet Paramus street this morning has been identified as Brooklyn rapper Kampane. In a tragic irony, the hip-hop artist’s revamped website opens with the sound of a police siren. READ MORE….
* * * * *
Born in Brooklyn, raised in Flatbush, Stoute was related to the producer J Runnah, who has worked with Jay Z, among others.
“It’s all about the game and how you play your cards,” Stoute sang, touting the joys of living and enjoying the rewards of his new-found fame.
He released his first mix tape in 1997, then went on tour in 2000 with J Runnah and Roc-a-Fella, learning the music business, according to his website, iamkampane.com.
He was in the middle of a major promotional push behind his new music video, “What You Drinkin’ On,” a playful tune, complete with one-liners and wordplay about champagne and other spirits. “This is Part One / I’m tryin’ to get to Part Two,” he sings. “Let’s get it on.”
Stoute would have turned 34 two weeks after he was murdered.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.