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Mac Dre’s murder: SF rapper convicted in revenge slayings vies for release after a key witness recants

Wanda Salvatto, mother of legendary rapper Mac Dre who was killed in 2004, holds a framed photograph of her son when he was in his late teens at her home in Vallejo, California on April 25, 2012. | Susan Tripp Pollard/MediaNews Group/East Bay Times via Getty Images

A San Francisco rapper imprisoned for killing two men in retaliation for the slaying of hip-hop legend Mac Dre is seeking his release based on new evidence uncovered by the office of District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

Andre Dow—known as Mac Minister—was convicted at trial in 2008 on two counts of first-degree murder in the shootings of Kansas City rapper Anthony “Fat Tone” Watkins and his friend Jermaine "Cowboy" Aikens.

The case centered on an alleged 2005 murder plot that involved Dow luring the victims to Las Vegas under the promise of meeting Snoop Dogg, court records show. Dow knew Snoop Dogg and appeared on his albums. But instead of introducing the men to the rap superstar, he and an accomplice allegedly took them to a deserted cul-de-sac and riddled them with bullets from an AK-47.

Authorities linked the killings to the fatal shooting of Andre “Mac Dre” Hicks after a show in Kansas City a year earlier. While cleared of wrongdoing by police, prosecutors argued that the rap community believed one of the victims in the double shooting—Fat Tone—was behind Mac Dre’s killing.

Dow is now trying to have his convictions overturned, citing new evidence that a witness who testified against him fabricated his testimony. The witness admitted that he made up statements about having an incriminating conversation with Dow that prosecutors used to bolster their case.

“This is not a mere recanting of testimony,” Robert DeMarco, an attorney for Dow, wrote in a court filing from late April. “This was a pure fabrication.”

The new evidence is the latest chapter in a protracted legal saga involving numerous attempts by Dow to fight his conviction. He is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in a Nevada prison.

The witness, Antione Mouton, came forward after Dow reached out to a prosecutor in Boudin’s office for help. The prosecutor, Lateef Gray, said he had a legal obligation to look into the matter and learned late last year that Mouton was actually in jail at the time of the incriminating conversation.

Mouton testified that he had the conversation with Dow on a footbridge in Las Vegas on Dec. 5, 2005. During their talk, Mouton said, Dow made vague references to the killings and mentioned a third murder. But newly unearthed booking records show he was actually in jail from Nov. 28 to Dec. 7, 2005.

Booking records should have been disclosed in the trial, Dow’s attorney argues. 

Mouton testified under an alias, according to Gray. San Francisco police records show his true name is Antoine Cantrell.

Gray said Mouton was a federal informant who faced up to 40 years in prison at the time of his testimony in a trafficking case involving a minor.

“In exchange for his testimony, he was let out a few weeks after Mr. Dow’s trial,” said Gray, managing attorney of a San Francisco DA unit that investigates police shootings and other use-of-force incidents, called the Independent Investigations Bureau. He was named to the position in 2020 by Boudin, a progressive prosecutor who lost his seat in a contentious recall election earlier this week.

Gray said he was inclined to look into the case because Mouton claimed to know Dow from growing up in San Francisco’s Western Addition. Gray grew up in the neighborhood and said he didn’t know Mouton. 

Along with his other admissions, Mouton wrote in a sworn declaration that he’s actually from Hunters Point—a district on the other side of San Francisco.

A judge heard arguments over the issue on Friday and continued the matter to Sept. 23 for further discussion. The Clark County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Dow’s attorney said his client “adamantly maintains his innocence.”

“We’re going to keep fighting it,” DeMarco said, “but I am hopeful that he will ultimately be vindicated.”

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