Defense Begins Calling Witnesses in Racketeering Trial

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

November 28, 2005

The prosecution rested and the defense began laying out its case today in a federal racketeering trial in Charlottesville.

Monday was the start of the third week of a trial against four defendants accused of gang related drug crimes. Louis Antonio Bryant, John Bryant, Clay Maupin and Terry Suggs are facing life in prison if convicted.

Just before the court wrapped up for the night, an inmate from the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional jail took the stand, and the jury was taken out of the room, unable to hear what he had to say. He said he was going to testify that he overheard another inmate at the jail who was a witness for the prosecution say he 'testi-lied.' In other words, he heard the inmate say he did not testify truthfully.

The jury did not get to hear any of this information. The defense witness also said he was afraid to testify because the prosecution threatened him. The prosecution said his statements were completely false.

In light of this new information, the defense moved for a change of venue and a new special prosecutor. The judge denied the request.

The defense also called a linguistics and gangster rap music expert from Penn State to the stand.

This witness could not comment specifically on defendant Louis Antonio Bryant's rap lyrics but he did say that rap music in general is based on real experiences but that rappers often exaggerate the truth in their music.

The prosecution had called witnesses that testified that the drug selling, guns, and shootings Bryant rapped about in his music were all based on true events.

Tuesday the defense will continue to call its witnesses to the stand, and may possibly move to closing arguments.

All four men on trial are facing life in prison.

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