PUFFY ACQUITTED

Puff Daddy cleared of all charges in nightclub shooting trial...

A jury in New York has cleared SEAN ‘PUFFY’ COMBS of all five charges he faced, stemming from a December 1999 nightclub shooting incident.

The rap mogul hugged his mother Janice and his defence team in celebration on hearing the verdict, which took a jury of seven men and five women three days to reach. “I’m really very emotional. I feel blessed. I’m just so… you know,” he said at a brief news conference, moments after the announcement late yesterday (March 16).

Puffy had faced four counts of weapons possession and one of attempted bribery.

One of Puffy’s co-defendants, his bodyguard Anthony ‘Wolf’ Jones was also cleared of all charges. However, Jamal ‘Shyne’ Barrow, the rising rap star, was found guilty of first-degree assault and reckless endangerment. He was cleared of the more serious charge of attempted murder, for which he had faced 25 years in prison. He will be sentenced on April 16.

The trial had lasted seven weeks, grabbing the attention of the world’s media. Throughout there were allegations of witness tampering and much in-court theatrics from both prosecution and defence teams.

The pressure of the case told on all in court yesterday. As the jury forewoman read the verdict sheets, she and three other female jurors wiped tears from their eyes. According to Court TV in the US, a cheer rose from the public gallery as the final ‘Not guilty’ verdict was read out. At the same time Puffy dissolved into the arms of his lead lawyer Johnnie Cochran. His other lawyer Benjamin Brafman also hugged his client and began to sob. “I feel like I just won the Super Bowl, and this quarterback is going right to synagogue to thank God,” Brafman told reporters. Cochran said he would return to his practice in California, adding that “five not guilties will resound in my ears forever”.

Prosecution and police officers who had helped build the case sat stony -faced as the verdicts were read out. They left court without commenting.

However, this may not be the end of the matter for Puffy. Lawsuits totalling $1 billion from people injured in the nightclub shooting – three people were shot – are still pending.

[url=]Click here… to see NME.COM’s Puff Daddy On Trial minisite.