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Jurors Begin Deliberating Murder Case Of Rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg

February 9, 1996 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Jurors at the murder trial of rap star Snoop Doggy Dogg began deliberating his fate today after a prosecutor told them that celebrities may not ``hold themselves above the law.″

Prosecutors wound up their rebuttal closing argument, asking jurors to convict the 24-year-old entertainer and his former bodyguard of murdering a man in a city park in 1993.

The defendants’ lawyers argued that the shooting was in self-defense against, saying the victim, Philip Woldemariam, was a gang member who was pulling out a weapon at the time he was shot.

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Snoop Doggy Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, and McKinley Lee, 25, are charged with killing Woldemariam at Woodbine Park on Aug. 25, 1993, after an earlier confrontation near Broadus’ home.

Some of Woldemariam’s relatives wept today as the prosecutor, deputy district attorney Robert Grace, displayed the victim’s picture and urged jurors not to be dazzled by the star of celebrity.

``Why would Calvin Broadus do this act?″ Grace asked. ``What’s the import of that argument? It’s that Philip Woldemariam didn’t matter, that he didn’t have a future, that celebrities can hold themselves above the law.″

``But based on the evidence given to you, you should conclude that this whole mechanism that we call the criminal justice system applies to everyone,″ Grace said.

The two also are charged with conspiracy to commit assault with a handgun, and Broadus is separately accused of aiding and abetting. The two men remain free on $1 million bail apiece.

Lawyers for the pair claim Lee shot Woldemariam from a Jeep driven by Broadus as the victim was turning to pull a weapon from the waistband of his pants.

``It’s nonsensical to believe that Mr. Broadus would risk his budding career to do something like this,″ Lee’s attorney, Donald Re, said Thursday. ``It’s nonsensical to think Mr. Lee would risk his future.″

He pressed the defense theme that the prosecution had asked the jury to selectively pick bits of witness testimony to fit the case, which he called a ``patchwork of hodgepodge.″ He noted that several witnesses changed stories after first speaking to police.

The most prominent among them, he charged, were Woldemariam’s friends and fellow gang members, Dushaun Joseph and Jason London.

The two men initially told police that Woldemariam was unarmed when he was shot, but later acknowledged taking a weapon from Woldemariam’s waistband to ensure that Broadus and Lee would face murder charges.