A 29-year-old man accused in January of threatening two judges in a rap video posted to YouTube was given a four-year sentence on Tuesday after a jury convicted him on one of two charges.
Rodregiz Anthony Cole was found guilty after little deliberation on Tuesday afternoon of intimidating a public official, but not guilty of one count of threatening the life of a public official. Twelfth Circuit Court Judge Michael G. Nettles sentenced Cole to seven years in prison, suspended to four years in prison and two years' probation to follow.
Cole and his attorney, Shaun C. Kent, had argued that Cole and Keith Allen Norman Gadson were utilizing metaphor when they mentioned 3rd Circuit Judge R. Ferrell Cothran and 3rd Circuit Drug Court Judge Amy Land in a song posted to YouTube in December 2012.
The men were arrested in January after local law enforcement discovered the video while investigating a beating case.
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"Amy Land and Ferrell Cothran, I have your brains on the boulevard," is rapped by one suspect in the video, in which the other suspect also makes references to "guns, money and powder."
Cothran testified Tuesday that he took the video as a serious threat.
"I mean, in this line of work as a judge, I'm always careful, but now I look over my shoulder more than I used to," he said. "I did take it as a very serious, credible threat, particularly having dealt with both defendants before."
Cothran sentenced Cole to 60 days in jail in 2011 for possession of cocaine-first offense. That case happened to be one of Land's final cases as an assistant solicitor in Clarendon County.
"I was a prosecutor for 13 years, and my father (former 5th Circuit Solicitor James Anders) was a prosecutor ... for 16 years when I was growing up," Land said in March. "Threats are not alien to me. They're usually made in the heat of the moment. But these were not."
Kent said the verdict worked out to where his client was not guilty of threatening Cothran, but was guilty of intimidating Land. All along Kent has maintained that his client was being creative in the video when substituting the names of the only two judges he knew with the nickname for a Taurus handgun. That weapon is commonly referred to as "The Judge."
Kent also argued his client was not trying to threaten anyone as he did not publish the video or send it to Land or Cothran.
"He was attempting to use metaphor," Kent said. "Was it the best choice of words? No. But he has nothing but the utmost respect for (Land) and (Cothran). He believes they saved his life."
Charges against Gadson, 26, remain pending.