Remy Ma went on trial for assault Monday, with a prosecutor claiming the rapper shot and almost killed a friend because she thought the woman had stolen money from her.

But a lawyer for the singer, whose real name is Remy Smith, said the July 14 shooting after a party was "a tragic accident."

Smith, 26, is charged in Manhattan's state Supreme Court with first-degree assault and related charges in the shooting of Makeda Barnes Joseph, who was critically wounded.

Prosecutor Jason Berland said Smith, who accused Joseph of taking $2,000 from her purse, fired two .45-caliber slugs into Joseph's abdomen, then fled in a Cadillac Escalade and slammed into a parked car a few blocks away.

According to the prosecution, Smith abandoned her SUV and went to a friend's house without ever calling police or for medical help.

Defense lawyer Ivan Fisher said the victim's story about the shooting had changed since she testified before a grand jury. He said the two women had struggled over the gun and it went off accidentally. Fisher said Joseph's story changed when her lawyer was preparing to file a $20 million lawsuit against the rapper. The lawsuit has since been withdrawn.

Smith, who was nominated for a Grammy as part of the Terror Squad for the 2004 smash Lean Back, has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is free on 250,000 bail. The rapper, who also has appeared on recordings with Busta Rhymes and Eminem, could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.


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