Sigel's trial closes with drama

Philadelphia Daily News (PA)

The importance of Beanie Sigel's star quality was up for debate yesterday during closing arguments in his attempted murder trial.

From the defense perspective, the case is all about the rap star's celebrity status. It was the promise of a big payday from “the famous Beanie Sigel” that inspired shooting victim Terrance Speller and witness David Aimes to falsely finger the hip-hop artist for the crime, said attorney Fortunato Perri Jr.”Sometimes, being well known and having celebrity status can go the wrong way for you,” Perri told jurors.

In the prosecutor's viewpoint, however, Sigel's fame as a recording artist and movie star with his own clothing line didn't sway his identification as the man who shot Speller in July, near a West Philadelphia go-go bar.

Prosecutor Deborah Robinson told jurors the case has nothing to do with who is the most famous, who has recorded CDs or what famous rappers and record execs sat in the audience during the trial.

“Terrance and David didn't come here to stop the defendant's music. The defendant stopped his own music when he shot Terrance Speller,” Robinson said.

During the trial, which opened Thursday, Speller and Aimes admitted that after the shooting they lied about who had committed it. They made up a story about unknown robbers because they were so scared of Sigel and what he might do to them or their families if they fingered him, Speller said.

It wasn't until Speller was recuperating in the hospital that he told police he was attacked by the 30-year-old Sigel, whose real name is Dwight Grant.

“I was scared,” Speller, 27, testified last week.

“I just got shot for nothing. Imagine what would really happen if I told who did it.”

Speller said Sigel shot him after a woman who mistakenly believed Speller had called her a “bitch,” threatened to get “Beans” after him for the insult.

The shooting happened after Speller had argued with another woman – a stripper at the Pony Tail bar – who refused to let Speller touch her during a lap dance, Speller said. He said it was the dancer he had called a “bitch,” not the woman Sigel knew.

Perri told jurors that neither man should be believed.

“They're two admitted liars, convicted criminals, who were drunk and high during this incident,” he said.

Robinson countered that by admitting on the stand to smoking pot, going to a go-go bar and having contact with law enforcement, the witnesses enhanced their credibility.

“Terrance Speller and David Aimes are credible and believable because they kept it real,” she said. “They didn't sugar-coat it.”

The jury is expected to begin deliberations today. *

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