NEW YORK Jamal "Shyne" Barrow did fire a gun in Club New York, but only in self-defense, and there's no proof his bullets caused any injuries, his lawyer claimed in his closing argument Monday morning.
Shyne lawyer Ian Niles, the first to present closing arguments in the trial of Shyne, Sean "Puffy" Combs and Anthony "Wolf" Jones, urged the jury to acquit Shyne, in part because he used his gun in a "reasonable," justified way.
Shyne fired in the air only after another man, an associate of Matthew "Scar" Allen, fired first, Niles argued.
Allen allegedly started the argument that led to the shooting.
"It was Jamal's life that was at risk," Niles said, reminding the jury of testimony that Allen screamed threats before the shooting. "You pull your gun to hurt me, I can pull my gun to protect myself. That's what justification means. That's exactly what happened here."
Niles argued that the bullets allegedly fired by Scar's associate, who was described by one witness as a man with braids, could have hit the three people Shyne is accused of shooting. The defense lawyer repeated the phrase "reasonable doubt" again and again.
Because Shyne was defending himself, Niles claimed, and can't be proved to have hurt anyone, he must be acquitted of attempted murder, assault and reckless endangerment charges, Niles said.
Niles also urged the jury to acquit Shyne of some of the weapons charges he faces, arguing that the rapper was carrying his gun to protect himself, not to use it on anyone else.
One of the charges Shyne faces, criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, requires proof that he intended to use the gun against another person. But Shyne is also charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree and criminal use of a firearm in the first degree, neither of which requires proof of intent for a conviction.
Later on Monday (March 12), bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones' lawyer, Michael Bachner, used his closing argument to paint driver Wardel Fenderson as the real owner of the gun police found in Combs' Lincoln Navigator. Combs and Jones are each charged with possessing that gun; they are also charged with bribing Fenderson to claim it was his.
In the tradition of Combs lawyer Johnnie Cochran, Bachner coined a rhyming phrase for his client: "If Tony had no gun in the bar, Tony had no gun in the car."
The fact that Jones was present during the Club New York shootings, but by all accounts never pulled a gun, proved he didn't have one at all that night, Bachner argued. "The credible testimony put Jones right there, eye-to-eye with Scar … Jones did not display a gun, when common sense tells you he would have," Bachner said.
Bachner said Fenderson kept the gun in the Navigator he drove for Combs in order to protect himself from robberies on the road. Fenderson testified that he was once robbed at gunpoint while driving.
Fenderson's confession to the police that the gun was his, which the driver claimed was the result of a bribe, was a genuine admission of guilt, Bachner said.
Bachner mocked the bespectacled driver as "Urkel" and "Mr. Peripheral Vision," dismissing Fenderson's claim to have seen Jones with a gun in his waistband out of the corner of his eye. "Fenderson, members of the jury, is a liar," Bachner said.
Combs lawyer Benjamin Brafman is expected to give his closing argument Monday afternoon.