Baltimore Sun

Man attests for Combs' co-defendant

The first shots in a nightclub melee involving Sean "Puffy" Combs were not fired by Combs' co-defendant and protege, a witness testified Monday.

Jamal "Shyne" Barrow, did not fire the first shots, according to the witness, Tabon Terrence Jones. Jones, 34, a photographer from Philadelphia, said the gunman "had braids in his hair and they were wrapped tightly all around."

Barrow, 21, who has closely cropped hair, is charged with three counts of attempted murder for allegedly shooting three people inside Club New York in the early morning hours of Dec. 27, 1999.

Jones was walking to a bar in the center of the club when, he testified, "I heard some loud, angry noises going on and I turned and looked. A man put his arm in the air and shot a pistol."

Jones hit the floor with many other patrons and said he heard another few shots, but couldn't tell if they were from the same gun.

Jones also testified that before the shooting, he had seen the gunman talking to two other men in the restroom.

Out of the presence of the jury, Barrow's lawyer, Ian Niles, asked to be allowed to question Jones about the conversation he overheard. Niles said Jones believed the two men appeared to be planning a robbery of Combs.

But Justice Charles Solomon agreed with prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos that Jones should not be permitted to testify about the conversation because it is hearsay, or secondhand information, rather than something that was said directly to him.

However, Niles was allowed to ask Jones, with the jury in the courtroom, about the men's tone of voice. "They were angry and upset," Jones replied.

Jones is the first witness to definitively state that Barrow did not fire the first shot. Other witnesses have said they did not see the gunman; one witness last week testified that he saw Barrow and another man holding weapons.

An earlier witness said he was certain he heard two guns fired. Police found shell casings in the club from two guns.

Combs, 31, and his bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones, 34, are charged with weapons possession and bribery. Prosecutors say one gun was found in Combs' Lincoln Navigator SUV, while a second was thrown from its window as Combs fled the club. Combs is accused of offering his driver a bribe to take the rap for the gun charge.

The hip-hop star faces 15 years in prison if convicted.