A Portland, Oregon, rapper was found not guilty last Thursday of conspiracy to distribute narcotics at the end of a trial in which prosecutors used his song lyrics as evidence against him.
Jonathan "Demetrius" Norman, who raps under the name Smurf Luciano in the Portland group Gangsters on the Move (GOTM), was accused of running cocaine for a local drug kingpin. Ellen Rogers, an investigator for Norman's defense, claimed he was set up by a career criminal's false testimony.
Though he's been cleared of the federal charge, Norman remains in jail because he still faces state charges stemming from the same circumstances. Rogers said Norman's lawyer is attempting to negotiate his release on bail by Christmas.
During the six-week trial, prosecutors argued that the lyrics to GOTM's "No Deal," which include a reference to "packing heat" and criticize Portland's district attorney, were proof that Norman was a criminal. New York spoken-word artist Carl Hancock Rux testified as an expert witness for the defense, and said listeners shouldn't assume that rappers actually live the lives they rap about.
GOTM's first album, Coming for the Goods, was released on Norman's label, 2 Real Records. The label's marketing vice president, Dominic Hall, said the experience of the trial has the label excited about its next project, tentatively titled Guilty Until Proven Innocent.