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Snoop Doggy Dogg Trial: 1995-96

Murder Was The Charge

Charges against Sean Abrams were dropped by the time the case came to court over two years later. When testimony began on November 27, 1995, the trial immediately centered on the conduct of the Los Angeles Police Department, whose alleged mishandling of evidence in the recently decided O.J. Simpson murder trial had been cited as a major reason for Simpson's controversial acquittal. Prosecutor Edward Nisson tried to minimize any damage to his case by admitting in opening statements that some evidence, including Woldemariam's bloody clothing, a bullet, and a shell casing, had disappeared while in police possession. Jurors, who had been examined about any negative impressions the Simpson case might have had on their opinion of the city's justice system, rolled their eyes at Nison's admissions. Despite the police department's mistakes, Nison persistently argued that Broadus and Lee had hunted down Woldemariam over a gang-related insult and had shot him in the back.

The prosecution's problems were not confined to the missing evidence. The defense held that Lee had fired only in self-defense when Woldemariam ran toward Broadus's Jeep while reaching for a gun in his waistband. Yet no gun had been found on Woldemariam's body. Two fellow gang members who had witnessed the shooting initially told police that the dead man had been unarmed when Lee shot him. By the time the trial began, they recanted their stories and admitted that they had hidden a pistol Woldemariam had been carrying. Defense attorney David Kenner seized the opportunity to discredit the incriminating testimony upon which the murder indictments relied so heavily. Kenner grilled prosecution witness Jason London, who admitted that he and fellow gang member Dushaun Joseph had hidden Woldemariam's gun. London denied that he and Joseph had taken the weapon to make Woldemariam appear to have been a defenseless victim or that they had tried to incriminate Lee and Broadus by denying the gun's existence to police. Nevertheless, the defense had succeeded in bringing this implication before the jury. London also admitted that Woldemariam had a reputation for irrational behavior and that Broadus had played no part in the earlier confrontation at his apartment complex.

The prosecution ridiculed claims that Lee had used his gun to protect himself and Broadus. In the prosecution's scenario, the location of Woldemariam's wounds proved that he was an innocent victim. A Los Angeles County medical examiner was called to confirm that Woldemariam had been shot in the back and buttocks. Under cross-examination, however, the examiner admitted that his report noted that the wounds were "lateral," implying that the bullets that hit Woldemariam traveled sideways through his body, not necessarily from back to front.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1995 to PresentSnoop Doggy Dogg Trial: 1995-96 - A Rising Rap Star, Murder Was The Charge, Jury Frees Snoop Dogg, Suggestions For Further Reading