NEW YORK A bullet allegedly fired by Sean "Puffy" Combs could have been the real cause of the injuries suffered by three people at Club New York in December 1999, a lawyer for rapper Jamal "Shyne" Barrow suggested in court Tuesday.
In his opening statement Monday, prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos charged that Shyne shot wildly into a crowd, injuring three people, at least partly with bullet fragments or ricocheting shells. In the same statement, he accused Combs of shooting a gun into the ceiling at roughly the same time.
"Yesterday, for the first time, I heard that Mr. Combs is charged with firing a gun," Shyne's lawyer, Murray Richman, said. "Does [the prosecutor] have any knowledge as to what happened to the slug? The crime my client is charged with deals with fragments or ricochets."
Richman's comments marked the first time that any of the lawyers in the case of Combs, Barrow and bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones have suggested that other defendants might be responsible for their clients' alleged actions. Combs and his lawyers, Benjamin Brafman and Johnnie Cochran, were not in court for Tuesday's hearing.
Judge Charles Solomon asked Richman to submit his questions about Combs' alleged bullet as a written motion, and the lawyer agreed to do so.
A source close to the case accused Richman of desperation.
"Puffy never had a gun," the source said. "It's desperate on Murray Richman's part and a preposterous suggestion."
Tuesday's hearing addressed the question of whether an unidentified female witness who was at Club New York on the night of the shooting knew Shyne well enough to properly identify him. It ended after the judge decided to have the witness testify on her knowledge of Shyne outside the presence of the jury before her actual testimony later this week.
Lawyers for both sides are unable to comment on the facts of the case because of a gag order issued by the judge.