Puffy Jury Told To Ignore Testimony About Car's 'Gun Compartment'

Detective says two guns could fit in hidden trap — but so could water bottles and jewelry.

NEW YORK — Sean "Puffy" Combs' lawyer asked for a mistrial on Friday after a police detective improperly referred to a hidden trap inside Combs' Lincoln Navigator as a "gun compartment."

Judge Charles Solomon denied the request, but told the jury to disregard Detective John Martin's comment, which had prompted an angry objection from Combs lawyer Benjamin Brafman.

"I was able to get two guns inside the compartment," Martin, an expert in concealed compartments who examined the car after Combs' arrest, continued. The judge allowed that comment to stand.

During cross-examination, Martin conceded that he could also fit any number of other items — bottles of water, wads of money, jewelry — in the trap.

Driver Wardel Fenderson is expected to testify that as he drove away from Club New York after the shootings there, Jones and Combs demanded that he open the trap so that they could hide a gun in it.

But another driver for Combs, Bill Williamson, said in his grand jury testimony that two hidden compartments in the Lincoln Navigator were meant to hold cash receipts from Combs' New York restaurant, Justin's, as well as his jewelry, Brafman revealed Friday outside the jury's presence.

Brafman said he has agreed not to mention that aspect of Williamson's testimony in exchange for prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos' promise that he won't introduce evidence of cocaine residue found in the traps.

Earlier on Friday, a ballistics expert said tests show that the 9mm cartridge casings found in Club New York had to have been fired from the gun that police allegedly found on Shyne.

The apparent bullet fragment that doctors removed from shooting victim Natania Reuben's face, however, cannot be identified as anything other than a "piece of lead," said the expert, Detective Sergio Gennari.

A computer analysis has shown that the two .40-caliber bullets and two shell casings also found at Club New York appear not to match any gun that's been in the possession of the New York City Police Department since 1996, Gennari said. The prosecution has yet to present an explanation for those bullets.

Judge Solomon prevented Shyne's lawyer, Murray Richman, from asking Gennari whether the bullets matched any gun that has been connected to Matthew "Scar" Allen, the man whose argument with Combs allegedly sparked the Club New York shootings.

Also on Friday, a police officer expanded on a colleague's earlier testimony that Combs was bent over near the front passenger seat of the Lincoln Navigator just before police found a gun there.

"I couldn't see what he was doing, [but] his hands were moving down by his legs," Officer Kevin Buehler said. In response, Combs' lawyers once again asked questions suggesting that Combs was bent over to protect himself against police, who had their guns drawn. (Click HERE for Sonicnet.com's comprehensive coverage of the trial, including a complete explanation of the charges in the case.)

(This report was updated at 7:09 p.m. ET Friday, February 9, 2001.)