Snoop Murder Trial Continues

Jan. 19, 1996 -- The Los Angeles murder trial of Snoop Doggy Dogg and his bodyguard, McKinley Lee, resumed on Thursday with a witness for the prosecution, Duchaum Joseph, unexpectedly striking a blow for the defense in acknowledging that the man Lee is accused of shooting three years ago -- from a Jeep that Snoop was driving -- apparently was flashing a gun at the time of the incident. The prosecution has been plagued from the outset by such things as missing evidence, but the defense has more than a hundred witnesses it can call when its turn comes -- although Snoop and Lee's attorneys may decide the case against their clients is too weak to justify such elaborate measures.

Elsewhere in LA, Tupac Shakur is a free man since Snoop's label, Death Row Records, signed him up and bailed him out to await an appeal of the sexual abuse conviction on which he'd been serving time in a New York prison -- and it now looks as if Shakur will remain free at least until late May. Both the prosecution

and the defense have agreed to delay further action on Shakur's appeal until then because of what the defense calls "special issues" -- among them, alleged juror misconduct in Shakur's original New York trial and a police failure to disclose the fact that the arresting officer in the case had allegedly once been suspended for flashing his gun at customers in a fast food restaurant.

One key prosecution witness testified last week that the dead man in the case -- 20 year old Phillip Woldemariam -- had indeed been reaching for a gun when he was shot by Lee three years ago from a jeep that Snoop was driving.

This week, the third man in that jeep with Snoop and Lee -- a man named Shawn Abrams -- said he would invoke the Fifth Amendment in refusing to answer any questions about the incident. The prosecution appeared to be losing ground in the trial -- but different participants had differing points of view, ranging from the slain Woldemariam's family, to Snoop's lawyer, to Snoop


SOPHIA WOLDEMARIAM, the victim's sister: We think it's going quite well. It's like a puzzle, and each witness saw something, and they're all coming to tell each piece that they saw. And I think, so far, something that's undisputed is the conspiracy. The fact that they circled the area many many times... The fact that there was a prior confrontation, and the fact that Phillip was trying to calm the situation down.

YOHANNES WOLDEMARIAM, the victim's brother: People get convicted with twenty percent of the evidence presented so far. The only reason why we need more is because these people obviously have a highly orchestrated, highly paid, and a highly overrated, you know, team of attorneys.

SOPHIA WOLDEMARIAM: Facts don't change, lies change. And David Kenner's lies continuously change. Today he asked for examples of when he had said this and when he had said that, talking about my brother. He's very good at attacking Phillip and attacking us in the media and

inside the courtroom when we can't talk back. Phillip can't talk back for himself.

DAVID KENNER, Snoop's attorney: Remember, we still, I believe, live in a society where there is a presumption of innocence, and unless and until the people put on enough evidence to remove that presumption, there is no obligation to put on a defense. Not only not to call the defendant, but not even to put on a defense. It's my view, based on the evidence, that they have not risen to that level of proof.

MTV: How important has it been that your family's been down here all the time? Because I know that your mom and dad have been around quite a bit.

SNOOP DOGGY DOGG: It's real important, you know what I'm sayin'? Every man needs his mom and pop.