New Jersey Supreme Court Listens: Can Rap Lyrics Be Used As Evidence?
TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey’s Supreme Court has heard arguments in the case of a man whose attempted-murder conviction was overturned because the trial judge allowed the jury to hear violent rap lyrics he wrote.
Vonte Skinner was convicted of shooting a rival multiple times in 2005 in Burlington County, leaving the man partially paralyzed. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
During the trial, prosecutors read 13 pages of rap lyrics attributed to Skinner. The writings, many describing violent acts, were penned three or four years earlier.
The lyrics read in part: “A (racial epithet) wouldn’t listen so I hit him with the Smithen / Hauled off 15 rounds, seven missed him / Two to the mask and six to the ribs, lifted and flipped him / The safe street squad found him, half his shell missin’.”
An appeals court overturned the guilty verdict, writing that caution must be exercised when allowing prior writings as evidence in a trial.
The Supreme Court justices on Wednesday questioned attorneys for the state how the lyrics could be used as evidence when they didn’t describe the actual crime and were written years before.
You May Also Be Interested In These Stories
- Fans Flock To Midtown Bars For Game 7, But Rangers Come Up Short
- Cops Seek Suspect In Series Of Brazen Robberies At Queens Dunkin Donuts
- Seen At 11: Could A Microchip Replace Prescription Medications?
- Clouds Get In Way Of Manhattanhenge, But Light Show Is Still Spectacular
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)