By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
"Here, take my ring as collateral," said Combs, handing Fenderson a pinkie ring, a birthday gift Lopez had given to him. "Take this ring. You don't believe me? I'm good for the money. This ring is worth several hundred thousand dollars. Take this ring. It's all right, $50,000. You will be one of us. I'll take care of everything, but you got to do it now, you got to do it now."
Eventually, Fenderson gives in, telling the cops: "It's my gun." But he reflects on what he has done. "It is at that point Mr. Fenderson . . . thinks about his daughter, his family," Bogdanos tells the jury. "It is at that time Mr. Fenderson . . . can't go through with it. He can't commit the crime." On the stand Fenderson stuck to Bogdanos's interpretation of the events. He was unshakable.
Shortly after the shooting, Sean Combs allegedly began to woo Matthew Allen with Puff love, trying to recruit him into the Bad Boys family. He and Allen bumped into each other at a party, and according to D.A. Bogdanos, talked about the incident.
"What's up?" Combs asked Allen. "Why'd that have to get out of hand?"
"What's up with trying to shoot us?" Allen retorted.
"I'm going to have my people get in touch with you, but it ain't coming from me," Combs said. "You've got to understand that it's not coming from me. Give your number to my man, Wolf. I've already got a bribery on me. My boys will take care of you, but you got to understand, it's not coming from me. My people will get in touch with you."
According to Bogdanos, the two men saw each other again on two different occasions, and Combs asked Allen why he had not reached out to the family.
"Why didn't you call my man?" Combs asked.
"I'm not your bitch to be calling your man!" Allen fired back.
In court papers, Bogdanos claims that someone who worked for Combs "in fact approached" Allen later "to talk about how much money it would take," presumably to buy his silence. But "no money ever changed hands . . . and there was no expressed or explicit offer," Bogdanos concluded. "Mr. Allen never gave any indication to those people that he would accept their money or what it was that he had to do in order to get their money."
Three days before closing arguments in the case, police sources told New York Postreporter Laura Italiano that "a Combs insider warned [Allen] to watch his back because the rap millionaire had put a $50,000 price on his head." Allen is in protective custody at the Queens House of Detention after skipping out on unrelated misdemeanor weapons and domestic violence charges. "You know I believe it, because that's how I'd play it," Italiano's law enforcement source quoted Allen as saying. "Why pay me $250,000 to shut me up if you can pay someone only $50,000 to clip me?"
In court Monday, Jamaal Barrow's hardcore clientele began scratching their heads in confusion after attorney Ian Niles dropped what they considered to be a bombshell. "Nigga said he had a gun?" one dismayed rap fan asked. They say that in the end, after all that bragging about "death before dishonor," Barrow broke his oaththat a true gangsta rapper would have bit into his own hollow-point.
But that's another bum rap they've put on Barrow. Nowhere in Niles's summation does he use subterfuge to suggest that Barrow's codefendants, Sean Combs or Anthony Jones, could have been that gunman. Thatwould be snitching. Ballistics tests showed the gun police found in Barrow's waistband had been fired twice, while witnesses testified hearing between three and six shots. Niles contended that the other gunman remains at large, chiding authorities who found it "more important to go after celebrities in this case than the true perpetrators."
As proof that Barrow fired at the ceiling and not at anyone, Niles reminded the jury that Wardel Fenderson testified hearing Jennifer Lopez say, "I can't believe Shyne busted off. He busted off in the air." Niles told the jury that Judge Charles Solomon will instruct them that a person may use deadly force to protect himself. "He [Barrow] attempted to use that gun in a reasonable manner to protect himself," Niles argued. Over and over again, Niles sought to convince jurors that "there is no evidence in this record that Jamaal harbored the intent to kill anyone," adding that "it was Jamaal's life that was at risk. . . . His intent was to get out of a dangerous situation." And when Barrow did, according to Niles, "he runs like there's no tomorrow." As Barrow would say, "That's gangsta!"
Additional reporting by Samuel Maull, Associated Press