For the second time in two weeks, the defense in the Sean “Puffy” Combs trial asked for a mistrial, following testimony today from a succession of police officers that laid a foundation for the bribery charge against the rap mogul.
Officer William Meyer continued his testimony from late Thursday, coming to the stand Friday to describe a “big” ring he observed on Combs’ left hand while he was in the holding cell in the Midtown South Precinct. The prosecution alleges that the diamond pinkie ring, a present from Jennifer Lopez, was used as collateral on a $50,000 cash bribe Combs was trying to offer to driver Wardel Fenderson to take the gun rap. Meyer also vouchered Combs’ property after his arrest, including over $8,200 in cash, a cell phone and a microcassette recorder. Meyer said the jewelry wasn’t vouchered because the defendants asked if they could hold onto it. Under cross-examination, Combs attorney Benjamin Brafman suggested that Meyer’s memory might be poor, considering the event took place over a year ago. Meyer couldn’t recall any other jewelry worn by Combs, only the ring.
Meyer testified late Thursday that Fenderson had also told him that the gun found inside Combs’ Lincoln Navigator was his. Meyer said that Fenderson told him, “I don’t want anyone to get in trouble here. The gun is mine.” Meyer then said that Fenderson took back his statement as he was about to be fingerprinted. “He told me that the gun was not his,” Meyer testified, “and he was not going to take the rap for anybody else.”
A police ballistics expert, Detective Sergio Gennari, also testified today that the three bullet shells recovered from inside Club New York matched the 9 mm gun found in the waistband of Jamal “Shyne” Barrow when he ran outside the club into the arms of other officers.
A third officer, Detective John Martin, an expert in concealed compartments who examined Combs’ Lincoln Navigator after Combs’ arrest, testified about the makeup of the car, saying that the vehicle’s hidden compartments would be ideal places to hide guns. Though the insinuation prompted the defense to move for a mistrial, Judge Charles Solomon again denied the request and instructed the jury to disregard the “gun compartment” comment. Solomon let Martin’s comment — “I was able to get two guns inside the compartment” — stand.
The trial resumes Wednesday.