NEW YORK — The jury in Sean “Puffy” Combs’ criminal trial finally heard from the mysterious Matthew “Scar” Allen on Wednesday, but not in person. Instead, New York City Police Detective Joseph Sweeney read Allen’s written account of seeing Combs and Jamal “Shyne” Barrow fire guns in Club New York, and endured cross-examination in Allen’s place.
The detective also revealed for the first time the identity of the man who threw money at Combs just before the shooting. It was a friend of Allen’s with the unlikely name of Marcus Welby, according to Allen’s account.
Allen, whose verbal assault on Combs allegedly sparked the shooting and who is in a New York jail, was scheduled to testify this week until lawyers from both sides agreed to instead allow his written account to be introduced (see “Shadowy ’Scar’ Won’t Testify At Puffy Trial” ).
“Matthew Allen is unavailable to testify,” Judge Charles Solomon told jurors, urging them not to speculate on the reasons for his absence. The reasons have not been explained in open court, and remain a mystery.
At least one juror, a middle-aged woman, was visibly shocked Wednesday when Detective Sweeney reached the part of Allen’s statement in which he described Combs firing a gun at the club: “Puffy had a gun in his right hand as I was running out. I could see both Shyne and Puffy firing guns. … I saw the fire coming out of their guns.”
Only one other witness, shooting victim Natania Reuben, has described seeing Combs shoot at the club, although three others said they saw him with a gun that night. The rap mogul faces gun-possession and bribery charges in the case, but is not charged with shooting a gun. Shyne is on trial for attempted murder, among other charges.
Sweeney, one of the lead detectives on the Combs case, said authorities sought Allen for months after the December 27, 1999, shooting, and found him only after he was arrested in Brooklyn more than a year later on an unrelated weapons charge. While in police custody, Allen gave an interview to Sweeney, prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos and other investigators, which Bogdanos summarized in a hand-written statement that Allen then signed.
Defense lawyers repeatedly reminded the jury that other than the signature, the handwriting in the statement — which was originally made public last month but not shown to the jury — belonged to Bogdanos, not Allen.
Allen became a fugitive in January, when he failed to appear at a hearing in Brooklyn. He was arrested on February 21 in Maryland.
Sweeney, whose testimony opened the prosecution’s rebuttal case, showed the jury how Allen demonstrated that Combs stood directly in front of him, no more than four feet away, when he allegedly opened fire. In his testimony last week, Combs said he and Allen were never closer than eight feet apart during the argument, and they were always separated by at least one person. Combs described his argument with Allen as one-sided, with Allen screaming at him while he tried to figure out why; Allen claims the dispute started after Combs knocked over his drink
Sweeney did not mention Allen’s allegations that Combs tried to pay for his silence after the shooting (see “Puffy Accused Of Bribing Second Witness” ). That was apparently because of the agreement that allowed Allen’s statement to be admitted as evidence.