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Mac Dre’s murder: Rapper imprisoned for revenge killings speaks out

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

Andre Dow has spent 16 years behind bars for a double murder he says he didn’t commit. Now, the San Francisco rapper sentenced to life for a pair of revenge killings over the slaying of Mac Dre is speaking out.

Dow—better known as Mac Minister—reached out to The Standard from prison to proclaim his innocence after a key witness who testified at his trial admitted to making up an incriminating story about him.

“It has been hell,” Dow said in a phone call from a Nevada prison just north of Las Vegas. “Hell. It has been hell.”

In 2008, a Clark County jury convicted Dow of murder and conspiracy in the deadly shootings of Kansas City rapper Anthony “Fat Tone” Watkins and his friend Jermaine “Cowboy” Akins. 

Dow and an accomplice lured the men to Las Vegas in May 2005 on the promise of meeting rap superstar Snoop Dogg, prosecutors said, but instead gunned them down in a deserted area.

Prosecutors said Dow murdered Watkins because he was rumored to be behind the killing of Andre “Mac Dre” Hicks in Kansas City a year earlier, despite law enforcement clearing him as a suspect.

But Dow said he had no allegiance to Mac Dre, in part because the two rappers are from different areas. Dow is from San Francisco’s Fillmore, while Mac Dre hailed from Vallejo. Dow also already had an allegiance with Snoop Dogg, who was much more popular and worked with him on some albums.

“I didn’t have a dog in the fight,” Dow said.

Dow traveled to different cities with Watkins to promote him before the shooting, he said. He described Watkins as the “best rapper that I ever heard.”

On the night of the shooting, the victims were last seen on camera leaving the MGM hotel with Dow. But Dow said he later went his own way and was at a radio station when the two men were gunned down.

“I don't have a clue what happened,” Dow said. “I know they dead.”

Dow has maintained his innocence ever since his trial and is fighting his convictions on multiple fronts. His legal battle gained traction in recent months when the witness, Antoine Mouton, said he made up a story that implicated Dow in the double shooting as well as a third, uncharged killing of a prostitute.

Prosecutors never charged Dow with the third homicide of a woman named Lee Laursen, but suggested at trial that he killed her to prevent her from snitching. Court records show she was engaged to his alleged accomplice in the double homicide.

Mouton testified that Dow made vague references to all three killings when they bumped into each other on the Las Vegas strip around December 2005.

However, a new investigation by a prosecutor under San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin determined that Mouton was locked up at the time. The prosecutor, Lateef Gray, discovered booking records from the Atlanta area showing that Mouton was in jail during the relevant dates.

Dow also only recently discovered that Mouton was promised leniency and money in an unrelated federal case in return for his testimony, according to a court filing by his attorney. Mouton faced up to 40 years for pleading guilty to a federal charge for sex trafficking a minor when he testified against Dow.

Among the statements Mouton has recanted is that he knew Dow from growing up in the Fillmore. Mouton was raised in Hunters Point.

“They paid this dude to act like he grew up around me,” Dow said. “He lied.”

Dow is now asking a judge to reverse his conviction in light of the new evidence, which his attorney argues should have been disclosed to the defense. A hearing on the matter is set for late September.

“I want to go home,” Dow said. “I want to get my freedom back. That's the bottom line.”

The Clark County District Attorney’s Office has not returned requests for comment.

Whether Mouton recanting his testimony is enough for Dow to secure his freedom remains to be seen. A ruling Monday in a separate but related case didn’t bode well for him. 

The Nevada Court of Appeals found that prosecutors presented “significant” evidence against him beyond Mouton’s testimony, including Dow inviting the victims to Las Vegas, the footage of them leaving the hotel, and lyrics from one of his raps about gunshots, dead people, snitching and being on the run.

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