Patterico's Pontifications

11/16/2008

What the L.A. Times Never Told You About an Inmate Who Was Close to Chuck Philips

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 6:11 pm

[UPDATE: Thanks to Mickey Kaus for the link. I have a very short summary of this post here. If you're getting lost, try the summary.]

Did former L.A. Times reporter Chuck Philips get duped by a con artist who improbably placed himself at the center of major acts of violence in the rap world? Did Philips become overly cozy with a prison inmate who sought to advance his agenda with tall tales and forged documents?

I’m not talking about James Sabatino.

The L.A. Times has published two major articles that relied on the credibility of a state prison inmate named Waymond Anderson. (Full disclosure: the Deputy D.A. who prosecuted Anderson is currently one of my supervisors.) But the paper failed to tell readers facts that would have revealed Anderson to be an obvious con artist spinning tall tales.

In January 2007, Philips wrote a front-page L.A. Times article asserting Anderson’s innocence in a 1993 arson/murder. The article took a strong position on Anderson’s innocence, and indeed, Philips has told an interviewer that he believes Anderson is innocent.

But Chuck Philips and the L.A. Times never bothered to tell you who Anderson claims really committed the murder. In this post, I will disclose this for the first time.

Hold onto your hats. Because it’s one of the goofiest tall tales you ever heard.

Namely, Anderson claims he was framed for murder by the same guy who killed Tupac Shakur.

Oh — and he says the same guy also killed Biggie Smalls.

How does Anderson claim to know all this? Because the murderer, Keith Davis, told him — in phone calls made to Anderson while Anderson was in jail, facing murder charges for the murder Davis had committed.

You see, according to Anderson, he remained very close to Davis, the man who had framed Anderson for murder. Anderson claims that Davis regularly spoke with Anderson in phone conversations that Anderson supposedly conducted while he was in jail for the murder that Davis committed.

In those jailhouse phone conversations, Anderson claims:

  • Anderson served as a middleman for negotiations between Christopher Wallace and Davis regarding a record production deal that Wallace was setting up for Davis and others as partial payment for the murder of Tupac Shakur;
  • Anderson listened as Christopher Wallace paid for the murder of Tupac Shakur — a transaction that he claims took place in a Las Vegas hotel room that Davis had booked under Anderson’s stage name;
  • Davis confessed the Shakur murder to Anderson; and
  • Davis reported to Anderson, step-by-step, his plans to kill Wallace, and gave Anderson a detailed confession of his involvement in the Wallace after the fact.

Again, all of these conversations supposedly took place while Anderson was incarcerated, facing murder charges for the murder Davis had committed.

Anderson made these improbable claims in a 2007 deposition in a civil case.

But did the L.A. Times know about Anderson’s rather singular claims?

Yes. They most certainly did. Because they reported on the deposition — only they left out the parts I just told you about.

Anderson’s deposition was given in August 2007, in a lawsuit brought against the City of Los Angeles and LAPD by the estate of Christopher Wallace, also known as Biggie Smalls or Notorious BIG. In September 2007, the newspaper reported on certain aspects of Anderson’s deposition. But strangely, the paper didn’t say one word about Anderson’s improbable claims of involvement in the biggest rap murders in history.

Instead, the newspaper touted claims made by Anderson that he and other witnesses had been bribed to implicate Suge Knight (and by extension the LAPD) in the murder of Biggie Smalls. The newspaper described Anderson’s testimony as “explosive” and claimed that it posed an “unexpected reversal” for the plaintiffs.

By trumpeting Anderson’s claims of bribery, the newspaper’s coverage favored Suge Knight, by undercutting the plaintiff’s theory that Suge Knight (and by extension LAPD) was behind the murder of Biggie Smalls. Which is interesting, Chuck Philips had long been seen as strangely close to Suge Knight — and had even been accused of receiving money from Suge Knight.

Regardless of the truth of these accusations, it is beyond doubt that Philips wrote a series of articles that disparaged the plaintiffs’ theory that Suge Knight (and LAPD) was involved in the murder of Biggie Smalls. Philips’s articles were unscrupulous and agenda-driven; he even went so far as to “out” a valuable law enforcement informant who was the key to the investigation. The informant received beatings as a result. (The outing of this informant will be the subject of a future post.)

Given this history, it was fascinating how well Waymond Anderson’s deposition appealed to Chuck Philips, the man who had written an article touting Anderson’s innocence.

Philips was interested in who had committed the murder of Biggie Smalls. Anderson claimed to know who that was.

Philips was interested in discrediting the plaintiffs’ theory that Suge Knight was involved in Biggie Smalls’s murder. Anderson not only recanted his previous testimony supporting the plaintiffs’ theory, he also provided information to discredit four other plaintiffs’ witnesses (Michael Robinson, Kenneth Boagni, Mario Hammonds, and Russell Poole), as well as the plaintiffs’ attorney Perry Sanders, whom Anderson improbably accused of bribery.

Philips must have been in hog heaven.

Some people even suspected that Chuck Philips had fed the bribery story to Waymond Anderson on Suge Knight’s behalf. Perry Sanders, the plaintiffs’ attorney, told the L.A. Times that he believed Anderson was “acting at the behest” of Philips — a claim that Philips and his editor James O’Shea roundly denounced.

The next step in the drama occurred in August of this year, when Anderson said the same thing that Perry Sanders had said.

In sworn testimony given at a court hearing, Anderson accused Philips of conspiring with Suge Knight to suborn perjury and threaten him with messages from Knight that Philips allegedly smuggled into prison and delivered to Anderson. Anderson said that Philips had brought in documents relating to the litigation, so that Anderson could learn what people were saying, and tailor a false story to the facts in those documents.

After Anderson’s explosive testimony, Philips declared himself “flabbergasted” by Anderson’s claims, telling the L.A. Times: “This is the ultimate betrayal.”

But it appeared that someone was taking Anderson’s claims seriously: the FBI.

Anderson’s attorney said that the FBI had questioned Anderson about his interaction with Philips. And sources tell me that representatives from the FBI were present at the court hearing where Anderson made these claims.

The L.A. Times now faces something of a Catch-22 as regards the credibility of Anderson, because Anderson has now accused Chuck Philips of some pretty serious wrongdoing — wrongdoing that, if proven, could result in criminal charges. Wrongdoing that is apparently being investigated by the FBI.

Either Anderson is telling the truth, or the paper fell hard for the claims of a prison inmate who turned out to be a liar.

But the editors of the L.A. Times should have known long ago that Waymond Anderson’s credibility was questionable. All they had to do was read the entire deposition transcript — the one whose contents they selectively reported in September 2007.

OK, so we know that the newspaper knew about the deposition. But how do I know what Anderson said in his deposition?

I know because I have it. You can read it here — and revel in Anderson’s far-fetched claims of having been at the center of the two biggest murders in hip-hop history.

By the way, this is hardly the only evidence of Anderson’s guilt that the paper failed to report. A document filed by the District Attorney’s office states: “In 1994, Petitioner provided multiple, audio-taped interviews and an eleven-page detailed statement in which he stated that he was in a Los Angeles record store the night before the fire” — when Philips claimed that Anderson was in Mississippi. That same document says that, in the recordings, Anderson “additionally admitted obtaining the gun and car used in the murder.” Philips never reported these facts, even though he reported on the filing of that document, and reported other (weaker) claims made in the filing.

In the extended entry, I flesh out more of the relevant background, and summarize the key details of the deposition, for those of you who don’t have the time to read the entire deposition, but want to immerse yourselves in more of the details of this fascinating saga.

There is much more to come, by the way.

Much more.

[Extended entry]

This extended entry is lengthy, and is intended only for those who are truly interested in the details of this fascinating story.

CHUCK PHILIPS FIGHTS FOR THE EXONERATION OF WAYMOND ANDERSON

This all started in January 2007, when Chuck Philips wrote an article that strongly suggested Waymond Anderson is not guilty of murder. Philips wrote that Anderson had travel documents and witnesses establishing an alibi for the murder.

The validity of Anderson’s alibi is still the subject of litigation, and the District Attorney’s office claims the documents and witness statements are not authentic. Yet Philips has publicly declared his belief in Anderson’s innocence, and the lede of his article was clearly sympathetic to Anderson:

He was an R&B singer who had scored a nationwide hit with “My Girl.” He performed around the country, drove luxury sedans and owned a palatial home in Calabasas.

Then, suddenly, Waymond Anderson was an accused murderer. Police in bulletproof vests surrounded his black Mustang on Jan. 29, 1994, and handcuffed him as his wife and 6-year-old son watched.

Philips’s use of the word “suddenly” suggests that Anderson’s arrest was a shock — like getting hit by a bolt of lightning. Philips portrays Anderson’s status as a drug dealer as something that prosecutors “persuaded a jury” was true — as opposed to something that really was true:

At the trial, prosecutors persuaded a jury that the entertainer known as “Suavé” was a ruthless drug dealer who had torched a home near the USC campus, killing a man to avenge an unpaid drug debt. Anderson was sentenced to life in prison without parole for first-degree murder.

(My emphasis.)

Only later in the article, in the twelfth paragraph, does Philips tell us that Anderson admits that he actually was a drug dealer:

Beneath the veneer of stardom, his life was a mess. Anderson acknowledges that he sold and used drugs, carried guns and cheated on his wife. This hidden side of his life explains why he would have killed a man over a drug debt, authorities say.

If Philips had told readers in the first couple of paragraphs that Anderson was an admitted drug dealer, that would have given readers a more balanced view of the merits of his claim of innocence. It would have robbed the lede of the shock value of an assertion that a mere entertainer was “suddenly” dragged out of his home and accused of a drug-related murder.

But maybe the shock value was the point — regardless of the facts.

The L.A. Times treated the story like a blockbuster. There’s no Holy Grail for a reporter quite like a story of an innocent murderer. Visions of Pulitzers dance in everyone’s eyes. The editors put the story on the front page and gave Philips wide discretion to suggest that Anderson was indeed innocent.

Indeed, before Philips was disgraced by the forced retraction of a major article — and before Waymond Anderson accused Philips of smuggling kites from Suge Knight into prison — it appeared that the L.A. Times was prepared to give Chuck Philips full credit for exonerating Waymond Anderson. In the previously mentioned September 2007 article on Anderson’s deposition, L.A. Times staff writer Mitchell Landsburg wrote:

The Times published an article by Philips earlier this year that cast doubt on Anderson’s conviction in a 1993 arson-murder. Anderson has since filed a writ of habeas corpus seeking his release.

(My emphasis.)

The Times‘s chronology falsely suggests that Philips was responsible for discovering the purported evidence of Anderson’s supposed innocence. But in fact, as Philips himself had originally reported, Anderson’s habeas petition was filed in October 2006, three months before Philips’s January 2007 article. The petition was packed with exhibits that Anderson’s attorney had been compiling for years. Philips can’t claim credit for discovering this evidence, though his paper is eager to suggest otherwise. But Philips certainly can be given “credit” for having written his story in a way that suggests Anderson’s claims of innocence have merit.

The trouble is, it’s not clear that they do.

CHUCK PHILIPS FAILED TO REPORT KEY PROBLEMS WITH THE STORY OF WAYMOND ANDERSON’S INNOCENCE

In October 2007, Philips reported that the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has strongly disputed the evidence that Anderson is innocent — and alleged that the documents supporting Anderson’s bid were phony:

In its response, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the district attorney’s office said the preacher [who had purportedly provided an alibi for Anderson] had no clear recollection of Anderson’s presence and that a videotape of a church service contradicted Anderson’s claim that he attended and was introduced to the congregation.

Prosecutors said the travel receipts produced by Anderson were not authentic. They also questioned the authenticity of sworn statements, gathered by a private investigator for Anderson, in which two key trial witnesses recanted their testimony, saying they had lied under pressure from police.

The district attorney contested Anderson’s assertion that his trial lawyer was ineffective.

The claim that the preacher didn’t remember Anderson being there, and that a videotape is inconsistent with the alibi, is particularly interesting, because in Philips’s original January 2007 article, Philips claimed to have corroborated those claims himself:

Among the witnesses who place [Waymond Anderson] there [in Mississippi] is Bishop Phillip Coleman Sr., pastor of the Greater Bethlehem Temple Apostolic Faith Church in Jackson.

At one time Gentry, Anderson’s sister, was related by marriage to Coleman, who leads the city’s largest black congregation.

In sworn statements and in interviews with The Times, Gentry, Coleman and his son Emmanuel corroborated Anderson’s alibi. The bishop said he had a distinct recollection of the singer’s visit because Anderson visited his church and made a $1,000 donation. A church record listing the donation and the date is included in Anderson’s court petition.

Emmanuel Coleman said he picked Anderson up at the airport Sept. 14, 1993, and drove him to Gentry’s apartment. The younger Coleman said that over the next few days, he and Anderson toured Jackson State University, drove around the city looking at real estate and visited Coleman’s relatives.

The younger Coleman said that about 2 p.m. Sept. 18 — the day of the arson in Los Angeles — he took Anderson to meet his father. According to declarations by the bishop and his son, Anderson spent several hours chatting with the elder Coleman about gospel music and his spiritual aspirations.

The next morning, Phillip Coleman said, Anderson attended a Sunday service at Greater Bethlehem, where the bishop introduced the singer to his congregation.

Using public records requests, a journalist acting on my behalf obtained my office’s return to Anderson’s habeas petition. It revealed several facts that strongly undercut Anderson’s claim of innocence, including several details not reported by Philips. I have reported some of these facts previously, but not all of them.

Here is part of the first paragraph of the document:

Several years after his 1997 conviction for murder, Petitioner first claimed hat he was in Jackson, Mississippi on the date of the murder. In 1994, Petitioner provided multiple, audio-taped interviews and an eleven-page detailed statement in which he stated that he was in a Los Angeles record store the night before the fire, where he heard J.D. Hawkins order the murder of the victims. He additionally admitted obtaining the gun and car used in the murder. The enormous disparity between these two stories coupled with the paucity of evidence substantiating Petitioner’s presence in Mississippi on the date of the murder caused Judge William Fahey to soundly reject Petitioner’s original habeas petition.

Philips never reported that there were audio recordings in which Anderson admitted being in Compton at the time that he now claims he was in Mississippi.

As to the “church record listing the donation” of $1000, which supposedly made such a big impression in the pastor, the document filed by the D.A. states: “Respondent’s investigators were unable to find any physical record of Petitioner’s donation at the church. Further, according to the secretary of the church, Petitioner’s alleged receipt does not resemble the church receipts from that time period.”

This is interesting, because Chuck Philips resigned due to a story that turned out to be based in part on forged documents. The question arises whether his story about Waymond Anderson’s innocence is also based in part on forged documents.

As far as Anderson’s appearance at the service, the D.A.’s filing states: “Respondent’s investigators traveled to Jackson, Mississippi and obtained a videotape from the church Petitioner allegedly visited on September 19, 1993. . . . The videotape does not show Petitioner was introduced to the congregation, nor does it show that Bishop Philip Coleman, Petitioner’s key witness, was even conducting services that day.”

As discussed above, Philips tepidly reported about the videotape in his October 2007 story, saying that the D.A. claimed “a videotape of a church service contradicted Anderson’s claim that he attended and was introduced to the congregation.” Philips shows no effort in this perfunctory story to investigate whether the videotape is authentic.

In that story, Philips says not one word about the church secretary’s disputation of the authenticity of the donation receipt. He says not one word about the recordings in which Anderson admits being in Compton on the date that he now claims he was in Mississippi. These facts, to my knowledge, have never appeared in the L.A. Times in any story.

Nor did Philips ever report that Anderson had previously made his alibi claim to a judge, who had issued a ruling stating that Anderson and his witnesses had tried to “perpetrate an elaborate fraud upon the court.” That fact was alleged in the D.A.’s court filing, which Philips had reported on, but Philips curiously omitted this important detail. The L.A. Times didn’t report it until August of this year, in the same story that reported Anderson’s allegations that Philips had smuggled messages into prison for Suge Knight.

Despite this strong case that Anderson’s evidence is bogus, Chuck Philips clings to his vision of Anderson’s innocence. In a March 17, 2008 interview with hiphopdx.com, Philips lets the cat out of the bag:

I’ve got a guy that I’m working a story on that’s been in prison for 13 years for something he didn’t do, but if you were to read the reports you would believe he did everything.

This is quite obviously a reference to Waymond Anderson. So, even though the District Attorney’s Office has raised serious concerns regarding the authenticity of Anderson’s claim of innocence, and Chuck Philips had reported the document raising those concerns in 2007, Chuck Philips has already made up his mind, and was still stubbornly clinging to the idea of Anderson’s innocence in March 2008.

THE JUDGE WHO CALLED WAYMOND ANDERSON A LIAR

Interestingly, Chuck Philips’s story advocating Anderson’s innocence never mentioned that Anderson was a key witness in the Wallace family lawsuit. This was an odd omission, since Philips had been reporting on the Wallace family lawsuit for years, in articles that generally reflected hostility to the plaintiffs’ theory that corrupt LAPD officers had conspired with rap mogul Suge Knight to kill Wallace. (Philips had long had a close relationship with Knight that had resulted in several scoops. One former Death Row bodyguard had testified in a pretrial deposition: “Chuck Philips was frequently at Death Row functions and received payments from Death Row Records.” The witness also implicated Suge Knight and the LAPD in the Wallace murder; Philips later trumpeted the witnesses’ recantation of that accusation without telling readers that 1) the same witness had accused Philips of receiving payments from Knight; or 2) that the witness had testified that he feared Suge Knight would kill him.)

In reporting on Waymond Anderson’s deposition, the paper called Anderson’s recantation a “surprising twist” that created an “unexpected reversal” for the plaintiffs. The paper deemed Anderson’s allegations that the plaintiffs’ lawyer had bribed him to be “some of [Anderson's] most explosive testimony.” The paper further bolstered the credibility of Anderson’s allegation by pointing to a similar accusation by David Mack as “an accusation that has echoes in Anderson’s claim.”

But a federal judge, reading the same deposition, saw only substantial evidence that Anderson was a liar:

The Court understands Plaintiffs’ frustrations with Mr. Anderson’s deposition testimony. Plaintiffs acknowledge, and provide substantial evidence to prove, that Mr. Anderson is a liar. Plaintiffs also acknowledge that Mr. Anderson has expressed concern about his own criminal culpability as an accessory to various crimes. Indeed, Plaintiffs’ Motion is accompanied by numerous exhibits that impeach Mr. Anderson’s testimony. Given that Plaintiffs have ample evidence with which to impeach Mr. Anderson’s testimony, additional discovery for the purposes of impeachment or to determine the motive behind his testimony appears to be an exercise in futility.

A review of Anderson’s jaw-droppingly implausible allegations made in his deposition reveals the judge’s observations to be an understatement.

THE DEPOSITION

In his deposition, Anderson claims that he was framed for murder by a man named Keith Davis.

Q. Okay, so — so Mr. Davis was responsible for you being incarcerated; is that correct?

A. Yes, he killed Mr. Robert Wellington behind drug money, and eye witnesses in my case know it. They’re scared to identify the man. And eventually — I guess a investigator is supposed to be taking Keith Davis picture to show them. They know who killed that guy really.

Despite Anderson’s claim that he was framed for murder by Davis, he described Davis as someone “who I am very, very close with from South Side Compton Crips.” In fact, he said, the two were so close that they kept in regular phone contact even after Anderson was jailed for the murder Davis committed. During these phone conversations, Anderson testified, Davis confessed to Anderson his role in both the Shakur and Wallace murders.

According to Anderson, before Shakur’s murder, Christopher Wallace was speaking regularly to Anderson, partially about “narcotics” and partially about “a production deal that was being put together for the South Side Compton Crips” as partial payment for the murder of Tupac Shakur and Suge Knight. Apparently, when Notorious BIG — then one of the biggest rap stars in the world — wanted to put a record production deal together, it was natural for him to turn to his pal Waymond Anderson, who was in jail for murder.

Waymond Anderson testified that around the same period of time, he was also talking to Keith Davis about his plan to go to Las Vegas. In Vegas, Davis intended to meet with Wallace, receive payment for the Shakur murder, and then murder Shakur. Waymond Anderson testified that Keith Davis booked rooms at the Monte Carlo hotel under Anderson’s stage name, Julian Suave Scott. Anderson explained that the Southside Crips booked the room under Anderson’s name because “I was not in — how do I put it? Involved with illegal activity.” (Of course, at the time, Anderson was incarcerated for an arson/murder, which most people consider to be “illegal activity” — but never mind that.)

Anderson says that Keith Davis told him “[t]hat they were there to assassinate Marion Knight, as well as Tupac Shakur . . . for Sean Combs, Biggie Smalls, and the New York people.” Anderson explained that “he didn’t come out right and tell me, ‘I’m gonna go to Las Vegas and kill Tupac Shakur,’” but that Davis had used code phrases for murder, like “I’m about to put somebody to sleep.” Anderson said, “we both knew what we were talking about.” (Later in the deposition, Anderson expressed concern about being accused of aiding and abetting Shakur’s murder. At that point, Anderson changed his story, and stated that he had no prior knowledge that Shakur was going to be murdered.)

Accompanying Davis to Las Vegas was Orlando Anderson, whom Chuck Philips named as Shakur’s murderer in a blockbuster article published in 2002. In that article, Philips made a blockbuster allegation that reverberated through the hip-hop world: “The murder weapon was supplied by New York rapper Notorious B.I.G., who agreed to pay the Crips $1 million for killing Shakur.” Philips never named the witnesses to this transaction, attributing it only to “people who were present.” Since Philips’s article was published, nobody had ever stepped forward to claim that they had personal knowledge that Wallace had paid for Shakur’s murder.

Nobody, that is, until Waymond Anderson.

In his deposition in August 2007, Anderson claimed that he was on the phone from jail, listening in when Christopher Wallace aka Notorious BIG paid $450,000 to Keith Davis for the murder of Shakur. Anderson explained that Wallace had first given the South Side Compton Crips “$50,000 and the gun in the hotel room.”

That was the first meeting. Then he gave him $450,000. There was supposed to be a million dollar payment made for the murder of Tupac Shakur and Suge Knight, but only half of the money was paid.

Waymond Anderson said he was on the phone when Wallace made the $450,000 payment:

Q. Okay. And to whom did Mr. Wallace pay $450,000?

A. He gave it to Keith Davis and one of the Hawkins people.

Q. And how do you know that?

A. I was on the phone when the money was delivered to Las Vegas.

Q. And by whom was it delivered?

A. Christopher Wallace himself.

Q. And to whom was it received, by whom was it received?

A. Keith Davis.

Q. And you were on the phone when the delivery happened?

A. Yes.

With this testimony, Anderson reveals himself to be the only person in the world willing to say he was a witness, albeit on the phone, to the most shocking allegations made in the most important story of Chuck Philips’s career. Yet the L.A. Times has not reported a word of this named witness who claims to corroborate the central allegation of one of the biggest stories the paper has ever published.

Odd, isn’t it? But it gets even stranger.

After Shakur’s murder, Waymond Anderson testified, Keith Davis and the others confessed their role in Shakur’s murder:

I did not know until after the fact the full plan of the murder of what took place in Las Vegas. I was told afterwards. Had I been — known that a murder was taking place, I would have called the police or something. But, I found out afterwards, they told me everything that went down in Las Vegas of what they were there for.

It was mighty trusting of Keith Davis to confess his role in the Shakur murder to Waymond Anderson, given that Keith Davis had supposedly framed Waymond Anderson for another murder. But Keith Davis wasn’t through confessing his role in murders to Anderson. According to Anderson, Davis also kept Anderson apprised throughout the planning and execution of the murder of Notorious BIG.

In his deposition, Waymond Anderson testified that Keith Davis “is responsible for Christopher Wallace’s death.” He explained: “I talked to him before Christopher Wallace was murdered and I talked to him after Christopher Wallace was murdered, and he did it. . . . [H]e told me he did it.”

After Shakur’s murder, Anderson explained, Keith Davis and Christopher Wallace had been feuding over various debts that Wallace owed Davis. First, Wallace owed Davis the remaining $500,000 balance on the money owed for the murder of Tupac Shakur. In addition, Anderson testified, Wallace and the rest of the “New York people” owed Davis and others $1.2 million for 50 kilos of cocaine.

Because Davis and Wallace were angry at each other, they would not speak to each other directly. Naturally, they decided to use Waymond Anderson — who, the reader will recall, was then in jail for a murder that Anderson claims Keith Davis had committed — as the middleman in their discussions.

Q. All right, and the same guy who set you up for a life sentence is the person who you’re indicating killed Mr. Wallace?

A. I’m not indicating, I know he killed him.

Q. That’s what you’re telling us?

A. Yes.

According to Waymond Anderson, Keith Davis phoned Anderson on the day of Christopher Wallace’s murder, telling Anderson that he planned to murder Wallace that night. (This makes perfect sense, of course. If you’re planning to murder the biggest rap star in the world, who better to tell than the man you already framed for another murder?) According to Anderson, Davis made this phone call as soon as he found out that he was confirmed for the Vibe party, sometime around 4 p.m.

Later in the evening, Anderson says, he spoke with Wallace on the phone, but he was unable to warn Wallace that he was about to be murdered, because Keith Davis’s cousin was on the phone. So, Anderson says, he called Andre Harrell’s house and warned Sean Combs that he and Christopher Wallace were going to be murdered that night. Anderson testified:

I told him to not go to Peterson Museum because they were gonna get killed, tell Biggie to stay at home, and hung up the telephone, had them hang up the phone.

Anderson claimed to know all the details of the Biggie shooting. Asked how he knew these details, Anderson replied: “Keith Davis told me everything that happened that day, everything that was planned out that day to kill him.” He testified:

I know how the murder went down, I know how the shooting went down, I know where the cars were parked, I know about the flashing lights, I know what side street they were on, I know who was in the van, I know who was in the white car, the SUV. I know it all.

Anderson added: “Keith Davis is the main source who provided me with the one-on-one information of the murder that took place that night in front of the Peterson Museum at the red light.” Anderson testified that he had been told about the murder by two people, but he would only provide Keith Davis’ name:

Q. Who said the van was parked next to Combs vehicle? Where did you hear that from?

A. The individual that was in the van and the individual who set the whole murder up.

Q. Okay, can you tell me those names?

A. I can tell you Keith Davis name.

Q. Okay.

A. He was the main contributor and plotter of this murder.

Q. Okay, what was — what vehicle was Davis in?

A. He was in the black SS that he owned. He’s always had an SS, that was like his third SS, which was a identical car it just so happened, you know, by pure coincidence David Mack had a vehicle that was able to manipulate it to — that fit the same description as Keith Davis’ vehicle.

Q. Who told you that Davis was in a black SS on the night of the murder?

A. Keith Davis did himself.

Q. Okay. All right, so then who was in the white van?

A. I cannot tell you that, sir.

Q. Because you don’t know?

A. No, because I know him, because of fear of my safety. Right now there are certain individuals who are more powerful than other individuals, and those individuals’ names I will not say as I have told someone else until I move to a proper location where I feel more secure at.

Throughout the deposition, Anderson makes references to how he has told “someone else” this story. For example, in discussing Keith Davis’s phone call to him on the day of Wallace’s murder, Anderson says that “[b]efore they went to the Peterson Museum they were in a restaurant in the back of Westwood and they were going to take care of Christopher and Biggie [sic] at that restaurant parking lot.” The questioner asks Anderson which restaurant, and Anderson says: “I want to say Hamburger Hamlet. Someone else has asked me that question, and I can’t remember the restaurant.”

Even though Chuck Philips is no longer employed by the L.A. Times, the editors of the L.A. Times should ask Philips whether he was that “someone else.”

It is interesting that, throughout the deposition, Waymond Anderson refused to answer questions about how many times he had spoken to Chuck Philips. Anderson claimed that was “privileged.” Anderson said of Philips: “He dug on my case and went out there and found the truth.” Waymond Anderson said that Philips became interested in his case after Anderson had sent him a letter. Anderson testified that Philips “answered my — my letter and responded to individuals’ calls in the record industry and he covered my story for a case that I’m wrongly convicted.”

So we know that Anderson sent Philips a letter. Did he tell Philips that he had the inside scoop on who killed Christopher Wallace? Did they discuss the murder of Wallace as they discussed Anderson’s case?

It is interesting to note that, in interviews done before Philips’s story on the Tupac/Quad Studios shooting (the story the paper later retracted), Philips said that he had been working on a story about who killed Notorious BIG. It’s difficult to believe that Philips could have had extensive discussions with Waymond Anderson about his own case, without it ever coming up that the “real killer” had also killed Tupac Shakur and Notorious BIG. After all, Anderson was hardly coy about this point in the deposition:

Q. Okay, so — so Mr. Davis was responsible for you being incarcerated; is that correct?

A. Yes, he killed Mr. Robert Wellington behind drug money, and eye witnesses in my case know it. They’re scared to identify the man. And eventually — I guess a investigator is supposed to be taking Keith Davis picture to show them. They know who killed that guy really.

Q. All right, and the same guy who set you up for a life sentence is the person who you’re indicating killed Mr. Wallace?

A. I’m not indicating, I know he killed him.

Q. That’s what you’re telling us?

A. Yes.

L.A. Times editors should investigate how Anderson got Philips interested in his case. Did Philips use Anderson as a source in his stories? Was he planning to use him as a source for his upcoming story on the murder of Christopher Wallace? These are the kinds of questions editors should be asking.

Anderson testified that, the day after the Wallace murder, Keith Davis spoke with Anderson by telephone while Anderson was in prison, to tell Anderson “how he planned the whole thing out.” Part of the information Anderson received about this was from Davis, and part was from David Herriford, a “crooked attorney” who gave Anderson the information in a legal visit.

When Davis told Anderson about the Wallace murder, Waymond Anderson said that he asked for details, because Anderson already knew that Davis had set up Anderson for a murder. (He did not explain why didn’t he tell anyone about this at the time.)

Anderson wouldn’t say who the shooter was, but he said that he is now dead. He hinted it was Orlando Anderson. He testified that Orlando Anderson was involved in the death of Christopher Wallace. He also testified that the same person killed both Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace. Asked how he knew that, he testified: “I was told by the person.” And, he added, it was not David Mack or Rafael Perez.

The close relationship between Anderson and the man who had framed him for murder didn’t end with Davis’s confession of his involvement in the Wallace murder. Instead of telling police that the man who had framed him for murder had now confessed his involvement in the murders of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace, Anderson says that he agreed to lie to police, because Davis asked him to.

Waymond Anderson explained that, while he was incarcerated for the murder that Davis had committed, Davis asked Anderson to contact LAPD to see if LAPD suspected Davis or his cousin Orlando Anderson in the murder of Christopher Wallace. Also, Davis wanted Anderson to implicate the name of Suge Knight as someone responsible for the murder.

Lydia and Michael Harris, who were involved with Davis in a conspiracy to take over Death Row records, also wanted Suge Knight implicated in the Wallace murder. Along with the Hawkins family, the Harrisses had been part of the plot to kill Christopher Wallace, and had agreed to pay the $1.7 million that Wallace owed the Southside Compton Crips if the Crips would kill Wallace and make it look like Suge Knight was behind it.

Despite the fact that Davis had committed the murder that Anderson was incarcerated for, Anderson agreed to cooperate with Davis, because he was afraid of Keith Davis and his Southside Crips connections.

According to Waymond Anderson, Michael Robinson, aka Psycho Mike, was incarcerated at Wayside jail with Anderson, and overheard Anderson’s calls, both to Davis and to Christopher Wallace. Although informants typically do not publicize their informant status within a jail, Anderson claimed that Robinson told him he was an informant for LAPD and the FBI. Robinson asked Anderson to speak with law enforcement on behalf of Robinson, so that Robinson would be paid his money for being an informant.

Robinson wanted Anderson to say that Anderson had seen “Suge” in a holding facility. Out of fear, Anderson called the detective’s number, and gave Robinson’s concocted story to LAPD because he was fearful of Robinson.

In addition to blaming Keith Davis and Michael Robinson for his 1997 statements to police implicating Suge Knight in the Wallace murder, Waymond Anderson testified that he had lied to police because he was angry at them for caring more about the murder of a rapper than about his own case. He testified that he had tried to tell them that he was innocent, but they said: “Yeah, yeah, yeah, we hear you, but, you know, tell us who killed the biggest rapper in the history of L.A., you know, we’ll talk about [your case] a little later.” Waymond Anderson thought that was “degrading and disrespectful” and therefore decided to lie to them about the Biggie Smalls murder.

By blaming Keith Davis and Michael Robinson for his 1997 statements implicating Suge Knight in the Wallace murder, Waymond Anderson was able to kill two birds with one stone. First, he was able to deny the truth of the statements implicating Knight. Second, he was able to discredit a major witness for the Wallace estate: Michael Robinson, who had previously told authorities that Amir Muhammed (a longtime friend of former LAPD officer David Mack) had been behind the murder. (Robinson was later “outed” as an FBI informant by Chuck Philips, and was subsequently beaten by Bloods gang members and disappeared. Robinson’s subsequent fate will be the subject of a future post.)

This became a pattern for Waymond Anderson: when confronted with statements he had previously made implicating Suge Knight in the Wallace murder, Anderson would admit having made the statements, but would say he did so at the behest of other inmates who were witnesses for the plaintiffs. Thus, Anderson was able to deny the statements he had made about Knight, and simultaneously raise questions about the credibility of other witnesses who had also implicated Knight.

CONCLUSION

If you read this entire deposition, keep in mind that the L.A. Times article about the deposition did not report a single word about Anderson’s fanciful claims that he had been framed by the same man who had killed Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace. Rather, the article focused on Anderson’s recantation of his previous claims of LAPD involvement in the murder of Wallace, and Anderson’s accusation that lawyers for Wallace’s estate had bribed Anderson to implicate the LAPD.

Most readers are by now familiar with the story of how Philips had to retract a major Philips article after it turned out to be based on forged documents. According to the Smoking Gun, those documents were supplied by federal prisoner James Sabatino, whom the Smoking Gun described as “an imprisoned con man[,] accomplished document forger, [and] audacious swindler.” Sabatino claimed close relationships and business dealings with major hip-hop stars, and “has long sought to insinuate himself, after the fact, in a series of important hip-hop events, from Shakur’s shooting to the murder of The Notorious B.I.G.”

The question for L.A. Times editors is whether this description of Sabatino fits that of Waymond Anderson — and why the paper has not reported the fanciful details of Anderson’s claims, or the judge’s statement that Anderson appears to be a liar.

The details of Anderson’s deposition claims raise serious questions about whether this newspaper is devoted to telling the whole truth about Waymond Anderson — and about their disgraced reporter Chuck Philips.

What’s more, Philips’s devotion to the cause of this prison inmate is only one of several new questions about Philips’s reporting.

Stay tuned for more.

17 Responses to “What the L.A. Times Never Told You About an Inmate Who Was Close to Chuck Philips”

  1. Wow, Pat, this story alone should be the end of the Los Angeles Times. You have here a bigger story than Phillip Glass and Beauchamp.

    Wow.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  2. Nifty!

    Is there anything left of Chuck Phillips’ credibility?

    One editing note:

    Anderson’s habeas petition was filed in October 1996, three months before Philips’s January 2007 article

    A touch more, really, unless one of those years is wrong.

    Fascinating stuff, all around.

    –JRM

    JRM (355c21)

  3. Thanks, JRM. Yes, 2006, not 1996. I have it sitting on my shelf here. Also obtained by a public records request.

    Cost me over a hundred bucks for these documents, too.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  4. Wow, this was 6976 words. I put it into an online word counter.

    That has to be some kind of record.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  5. Isn’t there some obstruction of justice in all of these documents, and/or the actions of those who provided/procured them?

    Another Drew (e3760b)

  6. And of course, the LAT would never reveal a source or release a video tape that a source gave them.

    That reminds me of something…..

    Does Philips have a book or movie deal?

    Kate (62134e)

  7. Last time I commented on this subject, one of the inmates quoted me…I can only hope that the old inmates get some new inmates…and then they can quote each other.

    cfbleachers (1f4df1)

  8. The LA Times in bed with wackos! I should have stopped by subscription years ago.

    Alta Bob (4456c1)

  9. Biggies was by far better than Tupac though I must say in the pantheon Jay-Z takes top bill.

    So what was that about Patterico? Looks like you are running for something in LA and you need some pub.

    Da'Shiznit (089453)

  10. Thanks, Patterico, for staying on top of this.
    Re #8 by Alta Bob,

    “The LA Times in bed with wackos! I should have stopped by subscription years ago.”

    I did back in the ’90s.

    Ira (28a423)

  11. Cost me over a hundred bucks for these documents, too.

    I’d hit the tip jar if you’ll tell me where it is.

    Old Coot (8a493c)

  12. If only Patterico had 4 layers of editors, maybe the media would pay attention to these kinds of things.

    JD (b96a9e)

  13. Excellent reporting, Pat. You should increase interest in it by emphasizing the Tupac/Biggie angle.

    L.N. Smithee (123231)

  14. Unbelievable! Well, sadly, all too believable in light of the LAT’s disassociation and shredding of all credibility.

    Chris (cefe13)

  15. Chuck Phillips must be suffering from “Death Row Records Derangement Syndrome” which has infected so many people. One only needs to be exposed to Death Row Records to catch the affliction. Several LAPD officers are among its most famous victims.

    Waymond Anderson’s deposition is quite entertaining. I read in the Wallace case file that Anderson suffers from mental problems. Maybe he’s afflicted with “Death Row Records Derangement Syndrome” too.

    My partner and I read and copied every case file connected with Death Row Records and its artists. I almost want to dig through them again but I want to minimize my exposure to the dreaded “Death Row Records Derangement Syndrome” especially now that winter is coming on.

    L.Hackett (d96a2d)

  16. Nick Broomfield; maker of the Biggie & Tupac documentary said in an interview that Chuck Phillips kept asking what hotel they were staying in etc and that he always struck him as being down with Death Row, and that he’s very in with David Kenner (Knights Shady Attorney). I think this interview is on thaformula.com or allhiphop.com (if it’s still on there).

    Daz Dillenger, who was part of death row records, admitted that he saw ‘The Bookeeper’ (Mark Hyland) around, Mark Hyland is the one on the Biggie & Tupac DVD, the one who said he help transport money to arrange the hit on Biggie Smalls. I think this interview might have been on thaformula.com too. If not google it.

    Mitchell Edwards (2510c5)

  17. Are you gay for Chuck Philips?

    A, (6f77e0)


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