“A New Jersey man whose rap lyrics boasted he would ‘blow your face off and leave your brain caved in the street’ will have his attempted murder case considered by the state’s Supreme Court, which will decide whether the words he penned should have been admitted at trial,” officer.com reports. Some background . . .
After an initial trial ended without a verdict, [Vonte] Skinner was convicted at a second trial of shooting Lamont Peterson multiple times at close range in 2005, leaving Peterson paralyzed from the waist down. Peterson was reluctant initially to identify Skinner as the shooter, but eventually testified at the trial that Skinner was the assailant. Peterson testified the two men sold drugs as part of a three-man ‘team’ and developed a dispute when Peterson began skimming some of the profits for himself.
During the trial, state prosecutors read 13 pages of rap lyrics that were found in the back seat of the car Skinner was driving when arrested. The writings, some penned three or four years before the Peterson shooting, include a reference to “four slugs drillin’ your cheek to blow your face off and leave your brain caved in the street.”
Another passage describes a mother in a mortuary, taking clothes “red soaked ravaged with holes” and “Wonderin’ if you died in pain. Was it instant or did you feel the slugs fryin’ your veins.”
As poetic as that last bit may be, the lyrics were the ice ice icing on the prosecutorial cake. In other words, they didn’t really need to use them. But use them they did. Which triggered the appeal (so to speak) and inspired the NJ ACLU (the civil rights group that counts one, three, four, five . .. ):
“That a rap artist wrote lyrics seemingly embracing the world of violence is no more reason to ascribe to him a motive and intent to commit violent acts than to … indict Johnny Cash for having ‘shot a man in Reno just to watch him die,'” according to the [ACLU’s amicus] brief . . .
In its brief, the ACLU said that an analysis of similar cases in other states found that in 14 of 18 instances, judges allowed rap lyrics to be admitted as evidence. The brief urges the Supreme Court to toughen the standards for admitting lyrics as evidence in a trial.
“We’re not saying song lyrics can never be evidence, but that there needs to be a direct connection to the crimes,” said Jeanne LoCicero, deputy legal director of the ACLU New Jersey.
At the moment, apparently, there isn’t. At least not in New Jersey. Whose shining example in all things firearms-related (in terms of tyranny) provides a heads-up to the rap-loving members of our Armed Intelligentsia: don’t do it. If you do, avoid all reference to shooting people. Which pretty much means don’t do it.
More generally, remember that everything you send down these Intertubez can be accessed by the prosecution and/or an opposing lawyer in a civil suit. The Second Amendment protects the First, but don’t let the exercise of the First remove the Second. Oh and what’s the bet Vonte gets a record deal out of prison?