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Appeals Court Upholds Editing of Rapper’s Statements to Police

A state appeals court has denied a request to allow into evidence unedited taped statements made to police by two defendants in the Snoop Doggy Dogg murder trial, prompting prosecutors to consider the possibility of dropping charges--and then refiling them--against the rapper and a co-defendant.

By dismissing and then refiling the charges against Snoop (a.k.a. Calvin Broadus) and his friend Sean Abrams, prosecutors would be able to proceed with separate trials in which the statements could be used in unedited form to discredit the defendants. Deputy Dist. Atty. Ed Nison on Thursday declined to discuss which course of action his office would take. He said the prosecution would announce its plans at the next court hearing in the case, which is set for Monday.

Broadus, Abrams and McKinley Lee, the rapper’s former bodyguard, all are accused of murder in the Aug. 25, 1993, shooting death of Philip Woldemariam, 20, in a West Los Angeles park.

Prosecutors believe Lee pulled the trigger in what authorities contend was a drive-by shooting, with Broadus, 24, at the wheel of his Jeep. Defense attorneys contend the shooting was in self-defense; prosecutors maintain it was the result of a gang-related dispute.

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Prosecutors earlier this week asked the California Court of Appeal to reverse a ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Paul Flynn requiring that the taped statements be edited so they would not prejudice jurors. The prosecutors contended that cutting the remarks would limit their ability to show discrepancies in the defendants’ accounts of the crime.

But the appeals court ruled Wednesday that Flynn was within his judicial discretion in ordering the editing of the statements. Flynn was “constitutionally mandated” to require that the tapes be edited to comply with rules on hearsay evidence, the appeals court said.


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