Next Week's Witnesses To Claim Puffy Fired Gun, Bribed Driver

Rap mogul's driver will describe seeing him with gin in car, prosecutor says in opening statement.

Though they've already described Jamal "Shyne" Barrow firing a gun and, in one case, tentatively placed a weapon in Sean "Puffy" Combs' hand, the witnesses who've testified so far in the duo's criminal trial appear to be mere opening acts.

The headliners — including witnesses who will claim that Combs fired a gun inside Club New York and later bribed his driver — are slated to appear next week and beyond.

The driver, Wardel Fenderson, will describe seeing Combs with a gun in the backseat of his Lincoln Navigator before he entered the club on the night of December 26, 1999, according to prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos' opening statement.

"As [Fenderson is] sitting there, Mr. Combs gets in the back of the Navigator. Something catches Mr. Fenderson's eye. What he sees shocks him — he sees a gun in his hand," Bogdanos said. "He'll tell you that he can't believe it."

Defense lawyers have suggested that the gun found in the Navigator — after Combs, bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones and Jennifer Lopez used it to flee the club — belonged to Fenderson.

Other witnesses will describe seeing Combs fire a gun into Club New York's ceiling at the same moment Shyne allegedly pulled the trigger.

"By all accounts, he fired it straight up," Bogdanos said. "It's impossible to say who fired first, Mr. Combs or Mr. Barrow."

Other testimony will center on two secret compartments in the Navigator. Fenderson is expected to claim that as he drove Jones and Combs from the club, they screamed at him to hide guns in one of the traps, which he had no idea how to open.

Defense lawyers can be expected to tear into all of the prosecution's remaining witnesses, including shooting victims Natania Reuben and Julius Jones. But some of the trial's most dramatic moments may come when the man so far known only as "Scar" takes the stand.

"This gentleman will tell you he doesn't care who Puff Daddy is," Bogdanos said of Scar.

As Combs and his entourage headed out of Club New York, the rapper knocked over Scar's drink, according to Bogdanos. Scar responded by elbowing Combs, and the two began yelling curses at each other, with their companions joining in, the prosecutor said. The argument allegedly led to the shooting.

"There's a lot of pushing, a lot of shoving. ... The words are 'F--- you Puff Daddy, you ain't sh--.' ... [They argue over] who's got more money, who's tough, who's fake, who's real," Bogdanos said.

Defense lawyers are poised to blame Scar and his companions — whom Combs' lawyer Johnnie Cochran called "the aggressors" — for inciting the shooting. Police found .40 caliber bullets at the club; none of the defendants is charged or even accused of having a .40 caliber gun.

Bogdanos had said that no one knows where those bullets came from, but it is likely that defense lawyers will question Scar with some intensity about whether he or his friends had guns at Club New York.

Another prospective witness has, understandably, generated much more excitement than Scar, but it's unclear if she'll appear in Manhattan Supreme Court. Lopez, who was at Club New York that night with Combs, and was, according to one witness, "in the middle" of the argument, is on the witness lists of both the prosecution and the defense.

Either side could call Lopez, but Cochran said this week that if she does testify, it's most likely to be for the defense.

If she does appear, Lopez can expect questions about Fenderson's anticipated testimony that, minutes after the shooting, she said that she saw Shyne fire his gun.

Shyne is charged with attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment and weapons possession, while Combs and Jones face bribery and weapons possession charges (Click HERE for a complete explanation of the charges in the case.)

The prosecution's case is expected to continue past the end of next week (For our complete trial coverage, click HERE.)