SPECIAL REPORT: In a heartfelt and emotional remembrance, the relatives of murder victim Rhian “Kampane” Stout yesterday recalled a hard-working, open and genuine young man whose generosity of spirit affected everyone he met.
Then they watched intently as his killer was sentenced to life in prison.
A large portrait of Stoute sat in the front of the Hackensack courtroom while two videos were played for Superior Court Judge Edward A. Jerejian.
The first video captured scenes of Stoute’s life, from the time he was a young boy up to his performing days in Brooklyn.
The others showed a kindly, neighborhood figure who spoke with children and old folks, gave money to the homeless and coaxed smiles.
“If Rhian was a real street person and a gang banger, I could understand. But he wasn’t,” cousin Devon Stoute said. “Because Rhian did not have an easy life, he made do with what he had.
“And it looked like more because of the friends he had. He had friends in the NBA, he could go to Jay-Z’s house and take friends from the neighborhood — because he was loved,” he said. “There were 500 people at his funeral.”
“As a young kid, he was always ambitious and independent,” delivering newspapers, driving a van – anything he could do to earn money, uncle Wayne Stoute said.
“It’s a big loss for my family, my sister – we cannot bring him back,” he said.
“I will miss his sarcasm most, because there was a lot of humor in it,” another cousin, Courtney Stoute, told the judge. “He was skinny and frail and we used to call him F-Rail.
“Once my brother and I were fighting and he just put his arm up and held me back,” he added. “I said, ‘Where does this strength come from?’
“I feel sad, betrayed, and angry.”
Cousin Anthony Stoute, who attended the trial daily with Rhian’s mother, spoke of his dreams.
“His goal was to get his mother a big house in a good neighborhood, while working and taking care of his grandfather,” he said. “He put out two albums and several videos, and all his friends said the same thing – with his personality, he was going to be a big success.”
Anthony Stoute spoke of the family’s bewilderment at the crime. One of the perplexing things about the murder, in spite of the guilty verdict, is there has never been a reason or explanation from convicted killer Randy Manning.
- YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Loved ones wept as they watched the rapper known as Kampane perform in a music video shown in a Hackensack courtroom this afternoon before a judge sentenced the man convicted of killing him and setting his body on fire to life in prison. READ MORE….
“He was murdered in a way that none of us really understand,” he said. “The reason why and what was done remain a mystery, as the murderer refused to say why. He was only 33.”
Stoute also vehemently denied that Manning and his cousin knew each other.
“The murderer Randy Manning is not related to Rhian Stoute. He is not a family member nor a cousin, Rhian did not know Randy from Trinidad – he is not a family member,” he said, his voice choked with emotion. “Nor did he grow up with Randy in the U.S.
“Randy lied about Rhian all along the way.”
“There are no mitigating circumstances in this case at all,” Devon Stoute said. “A life sentence to me is not much – he can sit in prison and watch TV, lift weights, make new friends.
“Rhian can’t have any of that, and we can’t have Rhian. [Manning] is still going to be living, still enjoying life,” he added. “In Florida where I live, he would have been sentenced to death. But I respect the law in New Jersey.’
Defense attorney Tana McPherson asked the judge to consider a 30-year sentence, saying that Manning would be 68 when he gets out of prison, which would give him an opportunity to go back into the world and redeem himself.
“A longer period of time would ensure he die in prison and though not identical, is a death sentence,” McPherson said.
To which Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer responded: “His humanity is not questionable, it’s non-existent.
“For him to do what he did to Rhian, to continually lie – he has given up any shred of humanity,” she said. “To shoot another human being in the face and the head four times, to leave him alone in an isolated and abandoned house, to return and attempt to erase him from the face of the earth – that is a person who has no humanity.”
Grootenboer called Stoute’s murder “one of the most horrific crimes Bergen County has ever seen. While his remains were engulfed in flames, Manning picked his clothes off him, and stuffed them in a basin nearby.
“The only justice – life imprisonment – will guarantee that Randy Manning will be justly punished for what he did to Rhian Stoute.”
Judge Edward A. Jerejian agreed, saying Manning showed “absolutely no remorse” and was a “significant risk to commit another crime.”
In addition to life in prison, the judge sentenced him to:
- Five years parole supervision, and the life sentence subject to the No Early Release Act, meaning Manning could not get out of prison for at least 65 years;
- Five years for arson, with no parole for 2-1/2 years;
- 10 years for desecrating and destroying human remains, no parole for five years;
- 10 years for unlawfully disturbing human remains, no parole for five years;
- Five years for hindering prosecution by concealing evidence, no parole for 2-1/2 years;
- Five years for hindering prosecution by lying to police, no parole eligibility for 2-1/2 years;
- 18 months for stealing Stoute’s SUV.
The sentences will run at the same time, with the life sentence.
“It’s in God’s hands – we have to keep on with life,” Wayne Stoute said.
Addressing the court, he added: “We appreciate everything you did here.”
STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
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