Trial: Rapper's lyrics used in his accused killer's defense
Gangsta rap has long drawn fire for its violence-laced lyrics. Critics have blamed the genre for inciting real crime. Some successful rappers have been accused of violent crimes, and in other cases, suspects have told authorities that gangsta rap songs provoked them to violence.
But the murder trial of Aubrey Berry, a 24-year-old events promoter from Atlanta, is unusual in the way it has focused attention on the artistic work of someone who was the victim of violence.
Berry is on trial for alleging killing Roderick Anthony Burton II, a 21-year-old black man best-known by his rap name Dolla, on Monday, May 18, in the 8500 block of Beverly Boulevard in Beverly Grove. He was struck four times, three in the back.
Berry's defense attorney has drawn, in part, on the rapper's lyrics and Internet videos with alleged gang members to portray Burton as a violent gang member who was attacking his client. But prosecutors argue that Burton's gang ties are irrelevant and that his music was simply entertainment in a culture in which violence sells.
"What an artist does and what an artist creates does not reflect on reality," Deputy Dist. Atty. Halim Dhanidina told jurors as he flashed violent lyrics sung by John Lennon and other music icons on a projector screen. "The defense is trying to inflame you."
-- Jack Leonard
Read more of Leonard's report on the case and the controversial defense strategy: Slain rapper's lyrics used in shooter's defense in murder trial
Top photo: Aubrey Berry, pictured in court after his arrest in connection with Burton's killing. Credit: Los Angeles Times
Bottom photo: Roderick Burton Credit: AP Photo / Kirklandem