LOS ANGELES — Young Buck scored a major legal victory on Monday, when a charge of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the melee at last year's Vibe Awards was dropped in exchange for a guilty plea of a lesser charge.
The G-Unit rapper, whose real name is David Darnell Brown, pleaded no contest to assault with a chance to produce bodily injury and was sentenced to three years of felony probation and 80 hours of community service, but no prison term.
The deal, which Buck's attorney, Scott Leemon, leaked last week (see "Young Buck Strikes Deal With Prosecutors In Vibe Awards Case"), comes just weeks before the trial was supposed to begin.
"What we'll tell you now is what we didn't tell anyone back then," a cheerful Leemon said outside the courthouse. "If you remember that first day [at Buck's arraignment in January], I told you pictures may be deceiving. Guess what? Pictures were deceiving. We knew that day in Buck's hand was a fork. He did not have a knife, he did not cause the injury and what we were able to prove by DNA evidence, by video analysis, is actually he did not do the stabbing."
Leemon's co-council, Lenny Levine, said a knife found on the scene at the Vibe Awards with victim Jimmy James Johnson's blood on it also had DNA from sweat that did not match Buck's. Video analysis conducted by the rapper's defense team also showed a fork in the rapper's hand.
"The allegation was that he used a knife and caused injury — that was dismissed," Levine said. "What he did admit to doing was having a fork and getting involved in some action with Mr. Johnson. He didn't cause any injury, he didn't stab him, but he had the fork. He takes responsibility for that, it was wrong, and he wants to move on now."
"I'm glad to get the situation over with so I can get right back out here and make good music," said Young Buck, who hugged his attorneys as he left the courtroom. "Look out for my new album, it's gonna be in stores summertime of '06, Bad Influence, and you can hear all about the situation. G-Unit!"
In June, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office ordered Buck to stand trial (see "Young Buck Must Stand Trial For Vibe Awards Stabbing"); Monday was originally supposed to be the day to set the start of the jury trial, which was expected to begin in early 2006.
The 24-year-old rapper has been out on $500,000 bail since his arrest last fall (see "Warrant Issued For Young Buck In Vibe Awards Stabbing") and pleaded not guilty in January.
Stabbing victim Johnson, who pleaded guilty in September to assaulting Dr. Dre, was sentenced to one year in jail and three years of probation and was ordered to stay away from Dre for three years.
Investigators are still trying to identify two other individuals seen brandishing knives in tape provided by the Vibe Awards producers.
Buck, who was also fined $200 and ordered to stay away from Johnson, said he was actually looking forward to his community service.
"I need to give a little bit more back, so I'm happy with that," he said. "I was gonna be doing that anyway. I was prepared for the worst, but expecting the best. I just want to thank everyone who was in support of Young Buck. Hopefully you won't see me here again."
Buck, however, is due in a New York courtroom on January 26 to face weapon-possession charges. That charge stems from an August 8 arrest in which police pulled over a van carrying Buck, Lloyd Banks and nine other members of their entourage for running a red light and found two guns in the vehicle (see "Young Buck, Lloyd Banks Arrested For Gun Possession"). Leemon said he expects the charges to be dropped before the court date.