Rapper Beanie Sigel was acquitted today (Sept. 26) in Philadelphia on charges he shot and nearly killed a man two years ago on a crowded city street.

Rapper Beanie Sigel was acquitted today (Sept. 26) in Philadelphia on charges he shot and nearly killed a man two years ago on a crowded city street.

The rapper, whose attempted murder trial began only a few weeks after his release from federal prison on an unrelated charge, was cleared by a jury of shooting Terrance Speller repeatedly during a dispute outside a strip club in July 2003. A jury deadlocked on the charges in April 2004.

The 31-year-old rapper, whose real name is Dwight Grant, left federal prison last month after serving nearly a year on a federal weapons charge that stemmed from a 2002 traffic stop in Philadelphia. He faces another city trial for allegedly breaking a man's eye socket during a January 2003 argument.

Speller testified that he first told police he was shot during a robbery, but a day later told family and police Sigel shot him. He said he was initially afraid to tell the truth.

"I wanted to make sure I was going to be all right and my family was going to be all right," Speller testified.

A jubilant Sigel, dressed in a shimmering brown suit, emerged from the courthouse with friends and family members, his defense attorney and Damon Dash, the Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder who signed him to a record contract. "He's just like my brother," Sigel said of Dash. "If he was in my shoes I'd be right there for him too."

Defense attorney Fortunato N. Perri Jr. praised the jury for viewing Speller's allegations and civil suit for what he said they were: "An opportunity for payday."

"We are disappointed with the outcome," the district attorney's office said in a short statement after the verdict. "We believe the evidence supported the charges."


AP LogoCopyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print