Prakazrel “Pras” Michel has entered a motion for a new trial, claiming that his lawyer blew the closing arguments at the original hearing by relying too much on artificial intelligence to craft his final pitch.
Michel called AI “experimental” and said the program’s use resulted in a number of errors by an “unqualified, unprepared, and ineffectual” trial attorney.
Michel was convicted in April on 10 counts, including conspiracy and acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the top counts.
He was accused of funneling money from a Malaysian financer through straw donors to Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, then trying to stop a Justice Department investigation and influence an extradition case on behalf of China under the Trump administration.
His trial included testimony from actor Leonardo DiCaprio and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Michel is free pending sentencing and has been appearing with the Fugees in various settings in what could be the final performances for the group, as Michel potentially faces a long prison sentence.
The Grammy-winning rapper’s efense attorney, David Kenner, previously represented rap figures as Suge Knight and Snoop Dogg.
In the request for a new trial, Michel’s new attorney accused Kenner of mixing up key elements of the case. He also misattributed the lyric “Every single day, every time I pray, I will be missing you,” to the Fugees, when it is a well-known line from a song by the rapper Diddy.
Kenner did not respond to a phone call and email seeking comment from The Associated Press.
“At bottom, the AI program failed Kenner, and Kenner failed Michel. The closing argument was deficient, unhelpful, and a missed opportunity that prejudiced the defense,” wrote Michel’s new attorney, Peter Zeidenberg, in his request for a new trial.
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