Jury returns guilty verdict in rapper's death

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The family of a slain musician and rapper tells NBC12 justice has been served. Tuesday night, Joseph Rodriguez was convicted for his role in last year's murder of Michael "Mike Ezie" Mitchell. A Richmond jury convicted Rodriguez of second degree murder and attempted robbery. They recommended he serve ten years for each crime.

The convicted killer kept his head held high as he learned his fate. The guilty verdict allowed the family of slain rapper Mike Ezie to breathe a sigh of relief.

"It's been holy hell," said his godmother Lenora Lewis. "We have some good days, but mostly bad days."

"Ezie" was shot and killed two days before Christmas inside a Southside recording studio. Authorities told a jury Rodriguez and two other men tried to rob the place. Commonwealth's Attorney Learned Barry could never put the gun in Rodriguez's hands. He was found not guilty on a third weapons charge.

"So I never actually proved who killed him, but I proved that he was involved with the men that did kill him," explained Barry.

And that was enough. Mitchell's mother Carolyn Robinson said she's pleased with the verdict.

Before the jury deliberated on its sentencing recommendation the commonwealth's attorney asked Robinson to explain what this loss meant to her family, saying mothers aren't supposed to bury their sons. She called Mitchell her angel and said she's only strong today, because of him.

Barry said he'd be willing to negotiate on sentencing if Rodriguez gives up his partners in crime.

"They need to get a conscience and a heart and turn themselves in," said Lewis.

A formal sentencing hearing is scheduled for October. A judge can hand down a term of anywhere between seven and 50 years in prison. Rodriguez's attorney said the state's case was weak and she's sure they will file an appeal. His family had no comment for our cameras.

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