After pleading guilty to the Atlanta highway drive-by shooting in November 2015, Jimmy Carlton Winfrey appealed his conviction in February, arguing that the judge overseeing his case coerced him into taking a previously rejected plea deal by threatening Winfrey – also known as Peewee Roscoe – with a harsher sentence if the charges went to trial, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
On Friday, Winfrey’s appeal made its way to the Georgia Supreme Court, who agreed that Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley Clark did “cross the line” when she pressured and “impliedly threatened” Winfrey to take the plea deal.
At Winfrey’s 2015 trial, Clark warned Winfrey of the offered plea deal, “This opportunity is going away. Go to trial and you get convicted there’s not going to be any of me being concerned about when you parole out. I will not be concerned about when you parole out.” Clark also cited a previous case where she gave a gang member a 50-year sentence.
Winfrey was initially indicted on 30 counts stemming from the drive-by shooting, but as per the deal, he only pleaded guilty violating six charges of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act, which carried a 20-year sentence with 10 years in prison followed by 10 years on probation.
While Winfrey’s conviction was overturned, he will remain in custody as his case goes back to the starting point, with Winfrey opting between another plea deal or a new trial, his lawyer told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
At the time of the shooting, Winfrey was serving as Bryan “Birdman” Williams’ tour manager; Birdman and Lil Wayne were in the midst of their long-standing feud. Winfrey and Lil Wayne reportedly had a confrontation outside of an Atlanta nightclub prior to the shooting. Soon after the drive-by, Winfrey placed a call to a cell phone owned by Birdman, who denied any involvement in the shooting. Police speculated that Winfrey orchestrated the incident to gain “street cred.”