Rapper Meek Mill has been granted a new trial by a three-judge appeals court panel in Pennsylvania, for a case that dates back 12 years. The only witness who testified against Meek was a police officer who was later found to have committed theft.
"The Commonwealth concedes a new trial is required," the judges' unanimous opinion stated, in light of "after-discovered evidence" about the police officer's conduct.
"We conclude the after-discovered evidence is of such a strong nature and character that a different verdict will likely result at a retrial," it added, and said that a lower court was wrong to deny the Philadelphia rapper's petition for a new trial.
"I'd like to thank the Pennsylvania Superior Court for overturning my conviction and granting me a new trial," Meek said, as quoted by his advocacy group, Reform Alliance. "The past 11 years have been mentally and emotionally challenging, but I'm glad that justice prevailed and my clean record has been restored."
The case stems from the rapper's conviction 10 years ago for various drug and gun related offenses. He was sentenced to serve 11.5 to 23 months in prison, followed by 10 years of probation.
Controversy arose in 2017, when a court sentenced Meek to up to four years in prison over a parole violation. Meek was eventually released on bail in April of 2018.
In Meek's original trial, the only prosecution witness was former Philadelphia police officer Reginald Graham. Meek lodged an appeal in February of 2018 calling for a new trial, saying he had learned of "serious allegations of misconduct against former Officer Graham."
According to the panel's opinion, an internal investigation from the Philadelphia Police Department found that Graham engaged in "criminal conduct." It said he "committed theft, prior to Williams' trial, and then lied about it during the internal affairs investigation." Graham then resigned from the police department.
Meek has repeatedly called for reform of the criminal justice system, a regular topic of his music.
"When I was 18, I was caught up in the system, and I got out of that situation," he told a Philadelphia audience last year, as member station WHYY reported. "God picked me to be the one to bring the light to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to the world, and I accept it, and I'm going to stand up to it."