March 1, 1996 — After two and a half years of living with a murder charge hanging over his head, rap star Snoop Doggy Dogg was finally found not guilty last week, of all charges save one — voluntary manslaughter — on which the jury deadlocked. In all that time, Snoop never discussed the charges — or the shooting of 20-year-old Phillip Woldemariam. The day after the jury acquitted him and bodyguard McKinley Lee of murder, however, Snoop sat down with MTV News to discuss the case. Here are some excerpts from that chat.
MTV: What was going through your mind at the time that the jury was reading the verdict?
SNOOP: I left it in God’s hands. That’s why I looked it, so stone-faced. I was just, I didn’t have no expressions. You know what I’m sayin’? It was all inner. I prayed on it. My family prayed on it. David Kenner, you know what I’m sayin’, put on a bomb, bomb case. Donna Ray and Marsha Morris, and Paul Paladino, the whole dream team. They did what they were supposed
to do, and they gave the baton to the jury, and I couldn’t do nothin’ but just bank on them and worry about what the outcome was gonna be, as far as to just sit there and hold my position, and to keep my head up high. And just, you know, wait for the outcome.
MTV: I remember when we talked to Malik, or McKinley Lee, he had mentioned that this case was really more so about him and that the actions that he took in his job. How do you feel that the action that he did take to protect your life resulted in the death of another young man?
SNOOP: I mean, I feel bad, you know what I’m sayin’? But yet and still, he done, Malik done his job. His job was to protect me, protect him and anybody that was around me at any time. That’s what he was hired for as a personal bodyguard. That’s what bodyguards are hired for. If you go get that, Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers, any one of them, and ask them, what is your bodyguard’s job? Did you guys see the, the movie, The Bodyguard, with Whitney
Houston? What was Kevin Costner’s job? To protect Whitney Houston from any danger that came to her while she was performin’. Even while she wasn’t performin’. And as you seen, the movie projected everything that could happen to you as a celebrity, but it really didn’t go in depth, as far as our situation. But it gave it across as clear as possible as they could. But if we was to do a movie called The Bodyguard, it’d be so similar to that.
MTV: But let’s talk about lifestyle for a minute. Because did the danger come to you, or were you always around this danger because of the environment that you were living in at that time?
SNOOP: No. I mean, the danger came to us. We perceived it as a threat. That’s the reason why Malik acted the way he acted in the situation. You know, I look at it like this. If Malik woulda waited another second, I might not be here doin’ a interview with you right now. If he woulda waited another half a second, I might have a hole in my head.
He might have a hole in his head. He might have a hole in his arm. You never know. But the thing was, God put us in a situation, and Malik acted in a manner that what he felt was reasonable, and which I felt was reasonable, and which my attorneys felt was reasonable, and which the juries found was reasonable, so that’s why I’m here doin’ a interview with y’all now.
MTV: Not being able to really talk about your feelings during this time, what’s, what was the one persistent feeling that you had that you wanted to let people know during this whole time, but you really couldn’t come out and talk?
SNOOP: That I felt bad about Mr. Woldemariam bein’ dead. Me personally, I rather him just have been shot and been in court lyin’, sayin’ that we tried to kill him, or tellin’ the truth, sayin’ that hey, yeah, I did go for a gun. That’s the way I would’ve rather seen it. You know what I’m sayin’?
MTV: So you do feel empathy, or sympathy for the family?
That’s why I’m not all the way happy. I mean, I’m happy that it’s over with, but how can I be happy about somebody bein’ dead? You know what I’m sayin’? I’m not pleased for that. I wish it woulda never happened. I’m just, you know, happy that it’s over with and I’m, I can move on with my life. But it’s gonna take some time for it to get all the way out of my system.Snoop talks, from “Snoop Raw Part 2: The Verdict,” a half-hour special that will air throughout the day next Wednesday, starting at 10 AM. Snoop’s legal perils aren’t over yet, he still faces gun possession charges from 1993, when he was arrested with an illegal semi-automatic weapon and an upcoming civil suit by the family of the late Phillip Woldemariam and possible retrial on the voluntary manslaughter charge on which the jury deadlocked last week. The District Attorney should make a decision in that regard in the next two weeks.