A San Diego judge Monday dropped conspiracy charges against a rap singer accused of belonging to a violent street gang whose members are facing charges of attempted murder and other offenses.
Prosecutors had alleged that Brandon Duncan, 33, fit the legal definition of a gang member as one who "promotes, furthers or assists in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang."
Among the evidence against Duncan, who raps under the name Tiny Doo, was his latest album, titled "No Safety," which has a picture of a gun and bullets on its cover.
Charges were also dropped against Aaron Harvey, 26, which had been based on social media postings.
Superior Court Judge Louis Hanoian ruled that there was insufficient evidence that the two should be included with defendants facing charges stemming from nine shootings and other violent acts that terrorized a neighborhood for more than two years.
"I'm not telling nobody to commit no crime, I'm not telling nobody to do anything," Duncan told reporters after the ruling. "It's just artistry."
A spokeswoman for Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis said prosecutors respect the decision of the judge and that the ruling will allow them in the future to determine if the law "is a viable legal tool in our fight against violent crime committed by street gangs across the county."
Of the 33 original defendants in the case, 12 have pleaded guilty to charges including attempted murder, robbery, possession of firearms and conspiracy to commit violence.
Duncan is a documented gang member with a "moniker" of TD, according to San Diego police. In 2008, he was charged with pimping and pandering; those charges were dismissed.
Duncan's attorney, Brian Watkins, had argued that use of a 2000 law to include Duncan in the current case is "absolutely unconstitutional" and a waste of taxpayers' money.
"It's no different than Snoop Dogg or Tupac," he said of his client's album. "It's telling the story of street life," with gritty details and obscenities.