Jurors Deadlock on Manslaughter Charge Against Rapper, Bodyguard
Feb. 22, 1996
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Jurors who acquitted rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg and his former bodyguard of murder deadlocked Wednesday on a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.
The jurors said they deadlocked 9-3 in favor of acquittal in the shooting death of a gang member.
``It now appears to the court that the jury is hopelessly deadlocked and I have declared a mistrial,'' said Superior Court Judge Paul G. Flynn.
The jurors also acquitted the rapper, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, of a separate charge of accessory after the fact in the Aug. 25, 1993, killing death of 20-year-old Philip Woldemariam.
The mistrial only applies to the manslaughter charges. Prosecutors said they had not decided whether to retry the pair on those charges.
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 the courtroom, the 6-foot-5 rapper thanked those who supported him through what he called ``2 1/2 years of just misery.''
When asked about the possibility of being retried on voluntary manslaughter, Broadus said: ``We ain't worried about that right now. Victory is won.''
The judge set a status conference for March 18. He reduced the bail of each defendant from $1 million to $100,000 each and removed electronic monitoring but warned them to show up in court.
``Be aware that if you fail to appear, it's the same deal _ in you go,'' Flynn said.
Broadus _ whose ``gangsta rap'' music is part of a stark and confrontational genre criticized for glorifying violence and degrading women _ planned to celebrate with his mother Wednesday night.
``I am so happy and grateful and I thank the Lord,'' said Beverly Broadus. She said family and friends were gathering at a restaurant to celebrate. ``It's been so stressful some days, but God showed us the way.''
On Tuesday, the seven-man, five-woman jury 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 in death of Woldemariam.
Some jurors sought autographs from the rapper after their 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.''
The failure to obtain a murder conviction was another defeat for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, which has suffered a series of setbacks in high-profile cases including the O.J. Simpson and Menendez brothers murder trials.
``We did the best job we could. We put out the evidence we had,'' prosecutor Robert Grace said. ``We're not criticizing the jury, we just don't agree with them.''
Prosecutors claimed Broadus and Lee followed Woldemariam to a west Los Angeles park and shot him after Woldemariam, 20, flashed a gang sign and shouted an obscenity from a car passing by Broadus' apartment.
Defense lawyers claimed self-defense, arguing that Woldemariam, a local gang member, was going for a gun in the waistband of his pants when Lee fired at him 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.
The shooting and subsequent trial has had little effect on the musical career of Broadus, who was born and raised in a tough section of eastern Long Beach, a port city 15 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Just months after the shooting, Broadus' debut 1993 album ``Doggystyle'' hit No. 1 in sales in its first week of release and went on to sell 4 1/2 million copies.
Broadus received the male artist of the year trophy in 1994 at the Billboard Music Awards along with MTV's 1994 best rap video award for the single ``Doggy Dogg World.''