PUFFY TRIAL – WERE WITNESSES NOBBLED?

Phone records reveal a number of calls between Sean Combs' mobile and witnesses' phones...

The spectre of witness tampering was raised again in the SEAN ‘PUFFY’ COMBS nightclub shooting trial yesterday (March 7), when phone records that showed a number of calls between witnesses and PUFFY’s mobile phone were produced.

Prosecutor Peter Bogdanos introduced the evidence late yesterday during the closing moments of his rebuttal case to the defence witnesses. He provided evidence of more than half a dozen occasions when conversations were held between phones owned by Puffy and two of the defence’s strongest witnesses, Charise Myers and Christopher Chambers. Both Myers and Chambers had declared under oath not to have seen Puffy carry a gun at any time during the night of the shooting on December 27, 1999. Both witnesses had also told jurors they did not know Combs personally and had never discussed their testimony with him. When he took the stand, the rap mogul himself specifically denied talking to one and never mentioned calls to the other.

The testimony of Chambers, a car mechanic, had been marked with a roaring certainty that at no time had Combs carried a gun, mixed with a complete inability to remember other aspects of the evening, such as how he got to the club that night.

Myers had been one of the strongest witnesses in Combs’ defence. A female bouncer, she testified that she fell on top of Combs as shots rang out and clearly saw that he did not have a gun.

Court watchers feel Bogdanos is smoothing the way to introduce further evidence of widespread witness tampering during his closing arguments, set to begin early next week.

The testimony of key prosecution witness Matthew ‘Scar’ Allen was read to yesterday’s court. It is Scar and his associates who defence are alleging started the fracas in Club New York that led to the shooting. They are also keen to suggest it was Scar’s friends, and not Puffy or Shyne, who fired shots into the ceiling, which ricocheted, leaving three people injured.

NYPD detective Joseph Sweeney delivered Scar’s three-page account of the shooting. Scar is currently in jail on an unrelated charge. As expected, he confirmed he saw “both Shyne and Puffy firing guns” at the club.

Defence tried to discredit the testimony during cross-examination. Sweeney acknowledged that prosecutor Bogdanos had actually written the statement as a summary of Scar’s words and the defence noted that Scar had been jailed at the time of the statement and neither his lawyer nor defence counsel was present for the interview.

Yesterday brought all testimony in the lengthy trial to a conclusion. After a day of legal arguments today and a day off on Friday, defence and prosecution will begin their closing arguments on Monday.

Puffy and his bodyguard Anthony ‘Wolf’ Jones face 15 years for their part in the shooting, if found guilty. If rapper and Puffy protege Shyne is found guilty, he faces 25 years inside.