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Rapper: ‘There is Such a Thing as Justice’

February 22, 1996

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Injustice is a popular theme in the ``gangsta″ rap world of Snoop Doggy Dogg. Yet when he was charged in a drive-by slaying that could have come out of one his songs, the jury sang a different line.

``There is such a thing as justice. We in it,″ the rapper said after jurors deadlocked Wednesday on a voluntary manslaughter charge a day after acquitting him and his former bodyguard of murder.

They also acquitted the rapper, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, of a separate charge of accessory after the fact in the 1993 slaying of 20-year-old Philip Woldemariam, a gang member.

Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek a retrial on the manslaughter charge, which carries a possible 11-year sentence.

``We ain’t worried about that right now,″ Broadus said. ``Victory is won.″

Broadus, dressed in a dark pinstriped suit and his hair pulled back in a braid, showed little emotion when the verdict was read. But outside court, the rapper thanked those who supported him through what he called ``2 1/2 years of just misery.″

``We walked in the courtroom and we leaving it,″ he said. ``We was never guilty.″

Broadus planned to celebrate with his mother.

``I am so happy and grateful and I thank the Lord,″ said Beverly Broadus. ``It’s been so stressful some days, but God showed us the way.″

The jury on Tuesday acquitted the 24-year-old rapper and former bodyguard McKinley Lee of first- and second-degree murder and a charge of conspiracy to commit assault.

Some jurors sought autographs from the rapper after the verdict. Others questioned why the case was brought to court at all.

``We didn’t do a rap star any favors,″ juror Rickey Sewell told the Los Angeles Times. ``We just did what the instructions of the court told us to do. If they were guilty, I would have voted for guilty. But I always believed that the defendants acted in self-defense.″

Prosecutors claimed Broadus and Lee followed Woldemariam to a park and shot him after Woldemariam flashed a gang sign and shouted an obscenity from a car passing Broadus’ apartment.

Defense lawyers claimed self-defense, arguing that Woldemariam was going for a gun in his waistband when Lee fired from a Jeep driven by Broadus.

Contradictory witness testimony hindered prosecutors. Two of Woldemariam’s friends initially told police that he was unarmed when he was shot but later admitted taking a weapon from Woldemariam’s body and hiding it to set Broadus and Lee up for a murder charge.

Judge Paul Flynn reduced the bail of each defendant from $1 million to $100,000 each, pending prosecutors’ decision on a retrial.

The shooting and subsequent trial has had little effect on Broadus’ career. His 1993 album ``Doggystyle,″ with its lyrics about sex, drugs and violence, debuted at No. 1 and went on to sell 4 1/2 million copies. He is currently working on a followup album, ``Doggfather.″

A lawyer for the Woldemariam family said his clients decided not to attend court and are pursuing a $25 million wrongful-death lawsuit against the rapper.

``The case is not over yet,″ Daniel O’Sullivan said.

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