NEW YORK Sean "Puffy" Combs gave "demonstrably, undeniably false" testimony and must be convicted on gun possession and bribery charges to show the world that "justice cannot be bought," prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos said in a marathon, six-hour closing argument on Tuesday (March 13).
Bogdanos accused Combs of using "money, power and influence" to convince defense witnesses to back his claims of innocence, but he told jurors that the five witnesses who placed a gun in Combs' hand on the night of the Club New York shootings can't all be lying.
The prosecutor's summation which seemed to overwhelm several jurors with its sheer length marked the end of arguments in the trial of Combs, Jamal "Shyne" Barrow and Anthony "Wolf" Jones. After hearing six weeks of testimony, the jury will begin deliberations Wednesday.
Early in his summation, Bogdanos offered a rejoinder to Combs' lawyers' rhyming instruction: "If it doesn't make sense, you must find for the defense."
"Few things criminals do make sense," Bogdanos responded, calling the evidence against Combs "overwhelming."
The prosecutor pointed to numerous points on which the rap mogul contradicted other witnesses in his testimony, such as his claims that he didn't participate in the argument that sparked the shooting, didn't see money thrown and didn't say one word during the police chase of his Lincoln Navigator as he left the club.
Combs was stuck with those seemingly implausible answers because he couldn't contradict his grand jury testimony, which he gave early last year before he knew what other witnesses were going to say, Bogdanos said. "He dost protest too much and denies what was common knowledge he denied everything."
For the first time, the prosecutor explained what he thought Combs was doing when police saw the rap mogul in the back seat of his Lincoln Navigator, bent over toward the front seat, where Jones was sitting.
Rather than suggesting that Combs had his hands on the gun that police found in the car moments later, Bogdanos accused Combs of hiding his holster underneath the front seat a holster that held the gun Combs allegedly had already thrown out the window. Police found the gun and the holster separately in the car, according to testimony.
The gun at Jones' feet belonged to Jones, Bogdanos argued, though both Jones and Combs could legally be found guilty of possessing it.
The prosecutor called the gun found in the car and the gun Combs allegedly threw out the window "identical twins," claiming that Jones and Combs must have bought them together: The guns share the same manufacturer, model number and finish, and they were loaded with the same kind of ammunition.
Those similarities prove that George Pappas, the man who claimed to have found the gun when it hit his parked car on its way out the window, was telling the truth, Bogdanos said. He repeatedly showed both guns to the jury, demonstrating that they do appear identical.
Combs looked on wearily as Bogdanos wrapped up his case against him, occasionally whispering to his lawyers, shaking his head in exasperation, or smirking in disbelief.
Shyne stared at Bogdanos as he batted aside Shyne's lawyers' claim that the rapper was acting in self-defense when he fired a gun at Club New York (see "Shyne Lawyer Asks Jury For Acquittal On Self-Defense Grounds").
No testimony ever showed that Shyne had reason to believe his life was in danger, or that he saw someone else fire a gun first, Bogdanos said. Witnesses have testified that men in the group who argued with Combs before the shooting threatened to kill both Puffy and Shyne, but under New York law, words alone are not considered enough to justify the use of deadly force, Bogdanos said.
The testimony of two defense witnesses that a man with braids fired first was fabricated, according to the prosecutor. He also pointed out that five witnesses described Shyne firing into the crowd, rather than into the ceiling, as his lawyers argued.
Bogdanos urged jurors to look at bullet-trajectory evidence that he said backs witnesses' claims that Combs fired a gun inside Club New York as well. The spot where two witnesses placed Combs when he allegedly fired into the club's ceiling matches where a ballistics expert said a bullet must have come from, the prosecutor demonstrated.
(This story is an update of "Hard Evidence Shows Puffy Fired Gun In Club, Prosecutor Says," published Tuesday, March 13, 2001, at 2:59 p.m. EST.)