NEW YORK A judge placed the fates of Sean "Puffy" Combs, Jamal "Shyne" Barrow and Anthony "Wolf" Jones in the hands of 12 ordinary New Yorkers on Wednesday, as jury deliberations began in the trial of the three men.
After explaining the legal definition of each charge against the defendants Wednesday morning, Judge Charles Solomon urged the jurors not to be swayed by "fear, or favor, or prejudice, or sympathy," and to instead use reasoned judgments to reach their verdicts.
The jurors spent about half the day deliberating before the judge stopped them for the day at 6:20 p.m., sending them to dinner and then back to a hotel where they will be sequestered beginning Wednesday night.
Combs lawyer Benjamin Brafman said he never expected the jury to reach a verdict in a single day.
Longer deliberations are "expected, with a trial that lasted this long," he said.
As the jury left the courtroom to begin deliberations around 12:15 p.m., the lawyers and defendants in the case were released from the gag order that has prevented them from discussing the trial since before it began.
"I feel very optimistic," Combs lawyer Johnnie Cochran said, moments after leaving the courtroom. "I'm well pleased [with how it went]."
"Let's stay in or around the courtroom everyone, and see what happens," Judge Solomon told the lawyers and defendants moments before deliberations began.
After six weeks of testimony about the events surrounding the shooting of three people at Club New York on December 27, 1999, the jurors appeared eager to deliberate. Several grinned widely as they exited the courtroom.
They sent their first note to the judge at 2:30 p.m., asking to see chart overlays demonstrating the spots where Shyne and the three shooting victims stood at the moment shots rang out.
The request seemed to indicate that the jury was weighing defense arguments that Shyne's bullets might not have hit the victims, and that, if they did, it was the result of accidental ricochets. Prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos had argued that bullet-trajectory evidence showed that Shyne's bullets had to have caused the injuries (see "Puffy Prosecutor Wraps Case, Calling Evidence 'Overwhelming'").
The jury sent another note at 4:35 p.m., asking Solomon to again read them the legal explanations of the most serious charges against Shyne: attempted murder, reckless endangerment and four counts of assault. In their note, the jury asked the judge to "please read slowly," which he did, after bringing them back into the courtroom.
While the other defendants left the courtroom as they waited for a verdict, mingling with the crowd in the hall, Shyne stayed put at the defense table, looking glum.
Outside the courthouse, Brafman told a crush of reporters that he was happy with the defense team's decision to have Combs takes the stand (see "Puffy Takes The Stand And Swears He Didn't Have A Gun"). "I think it helped significantly," Brafman said. "I think the jury was greatly impressed with him, as I was."
(This report was updated at 9:11 p.m. ET Wednesday, March 14, 2001.)