NEW YORK Matthew "Scar" Allen, the shadowy figure whose verbal assault on Sean "Puffy" Combs allegedly sparked the Club New York shootings, will not testify in Combs' trial, lawyers said Monday.
Jurors will still hear Allen's claim that he saw Combs and Jamal "Shyne" Barrow fire guns at the club on December 27, 1999 through a handwritten statement Allen gave to prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos in January. They will be asked to remember that defense lawyers were not able to cross-examine Allen.
Lawyers on both sides of the case agreed to the arrangement during a private conference Monday afternoon (March 5), and did not publicly give any reason for Allen's planned absence.
Jurors have not been told that Allen became a fugitive in January after failing to appear at a hearing in an unrelated Brooklyn criminal case, or that he was arrested on February 21 in Maryland and held on $1 million bail as a material witness in the Puffy case (see "Fugitive Witness In Puffy Case Found").
Allen had been scheduled to testify as part of the prosecutor's rebuttal case, which is expected to begin Wednesday.
Earlier Monday, Shyne's lawyers rested their case after calling clubgoer Tavon Jones, who was the second witness to testify that someone who was neither Combs nor Shyne fired the first shot at Club New York (see "Someone Fired Gun Before Shyne Drew Weapon, Witness Says"). Jones, a photographer, said he saw the gunman, whom he described as an African-American with braided hair, talking in angry tones with two other men in the club's bathroom, about 45 minutes before the shooting.
Judge Charles Solomon did not allow Jones to share the contents of the conversation with the jury, ruling them to be hearsay. What Jones would have said is that the men were "planning what appeared to be a robbery of Mr. Combs," Shyne's lawyer Ian Niles said.
"Let's melt these niggas for their cheddar," the men said, according to Niles. "F--- him and his champagne." Jones did tell the jury that the man with the braids fired into the club's ceiling. Jones then hit the floor and heard as many as three more shots, but didn't see where they came from, he said.
The witness said he believed Combs and Shyne had left the club by the time of the shooting, while conceding he couldn't be sure because he lost sight of them in the crowd.
Shyne's lawyers also called a ballistics expert, Charles Haase, who said it wasn't necessarily Shyne's bullets that hit the shooting victims at Club New York. And even if they were hit by Shyne's bullets, he said, the injuries could have been the unintentional results of ricochets, rather than direct hits.
Rather than exonerating Shyne of allegations that he fired a gun at Club New York, the rapper's lawyers appear to be focused on clearing him of only the most serious charges against him attempted murder and assault. Shyne also faces reckless endangerment and weapons possession charges.(Click HERE for a complete explanation of the charges in the case. Click HERE our complete trial coverage.) Lawyers for Combs and bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones rested their defense cases on Thursday.