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The Devil in DMX

Can the celebrated rapper get out of trouble long enough to top the charts again?

The MCSO search log details the conditions of the dogs found on Simmons's property, including three canines found with fecal matter on their legs, and four with various scars.

Simmons had raised many of the dogs from puppies, and reportedly even threw birthday parties for them. He says he was heartbroken when he learned of the dogs' conditions.

Arpaio and the media compared DMX to another famous guy who'd recently been convicted of dog fighting, NFL quarterback Michael Vick. "The sheriff went and got Michael Vick, then came and got my dogs," Simmons said in an interview with TMZ. "I wasn't even fighting with my dogs. I love my dogs."

DMX gestures on his way to jail in December.
Jamie Peachy
DMX gestures on his way to jail in December.
MUG SHOTS COURTESY OF THE MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE, EXCEPT (G) COURTESY OF THE ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
Mugshot A — May 6, 2008: charged with, among other things, reckless driving and criminal speeding Mugshot B — May 9, 2008: charged with animal cruelty and felony drug possesion Mugshot C — July 2, 2008: arrested for failure to appear in court Mugshot D — July 19, 2008: charged with providing false information to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale Mugshot E — March 9, 2010: charged with probation violation Mugshot F — November 18, 2010: charged with probation violation Mugshot G — December 20, 2010: DMX’s latest mug shot, taken after his transfer to the Flamenco Mental Health ward at the Alhambra prison complex in Phoenix

Simmons skipped out on his court date in Maricopa County and went to Florida — where he was promptly arrested for driving on a suspended license. Four days later, he was arrested again in Miami, this time for attempting to purchase marijuana and cocaine from an undercover cop. Meanwhile, back in Arizona, Joe Arpaio told local media that as soon as Simmons stepped foot back in the state, he was going "straight to jail."

Simmons left Miami and flew to Phoenix on July 2, 2008, and was immediately arrested at Sky Harbor Airport. 17 days after posting bond, Simmons was arrested again, this time at a shopping mall, for allegedly providing false information to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale to avoid paying medical bills.

He eventually pleaded guilty to four of the charges stemming from the MCSO raid on his home, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and 18 months of supervised probation. During his time in the Lower Buckeye jail, he was placed in solitary confinement for allegedly throwing a food tray at a guard.

Simmons was released on probation in late April, 2009. Everything seemed fine until 11 months later, when he was arrested after a court-mandated drug test came back positive for cocaine. He pleaded guilty to violating his probation and was sentenced to six months in jail. "It was a pretty good stretch," Simmons says. "At least I was in the AC."

He was released early for good behavior in July, after serving four months. A couple weeks after his release, Tashera Simmons announced they were separating, after 11 years of marriage. She cited Simmons's years of drug use and legal battles, along with the fact that he fathered five children by other women outside their marriage, as the reasons. But she tells New Times that the two are still on good terms.

Now separated from his wife, Simmons says he's trying to focus on himself and do positive things. Before he got arrested in November, he'd planned to participate in a December charity fundraiser for the Kyds Foundation, a Phoenix-based nonprofit group founded by Nakia Walker's 12 year-old daughter, a rapper who goes by Baby T. Despite his own current financial distress, Simmons wanted to raise $500 each for 20 Phoenix families in need at the event.

He's also trying to strengthen his relationship with God. "I read the entire Bible in lockdown," he says. Asked what he got out of that, he simply says, "Peace."

Simmons has lyrics, dating back to the very beginning of his career, that describe a fierce struggle between good and evil, and an intense love-hate relationship with God.

On his 1998 album Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, there's a song called "Ready to Meet Him" in which DMX talks directly to God: "I thought that I was special — that's what you told me / Hold me! Stop acting like you don't know me / What'd I do so bad that it sent you away from me? / Not only sent you away, but made you stay away from me?"

When Simmons started attending Morning Star Sanctified Church in Glendale last year, Pastor Barbara King had no idea he was "the famous rapper DMX." He was just "Brother Earl," who helped fix things around the church and asked for prayer. She says in all the time she's known him, he's only used a cuss word around her once — and then apologized profusely. He even performed a gospel concert fundraiser at the church last April, where he alternated between rapping, preaching and weeping.

"This right here, it's all in the name of Jesus," a tearful Simmons said from the stage, dressed in a red Ed Hardy shirt and blue jeans. "Because that's all it takes, is being asked for it in the name of Jesus. I'm talking to somebody! All it takes is for you to ask in the name of Jesus!"

"Earl is so spiritual," Nakia Walker says. "He has so much favor with God. This guy, he probably should've been doing ten years a long time ago."

Despite his mistakes, Simmons says he believes God will see him through. "If you listen to his prayers and the hurt inside him, he is crying out for help," King says. "He's a great person, someone you can depend on. He will give the shirt off his back. He does know the word of God. He just needs deliverance."

As part of trying to get his life together, Simmons turned himself in to authorities in Los Angeles last July, for a reckless driving charge he received in 2002. He served 18 days of a 90-day sentence and returned to his home in Cave Creek, hoping to stay a free man.
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