N.O.R.E. Testifies, Friend Accused of Triple Homicide
According to the Associated Press, N.O.R.E. (born Victor Santiago) took the stand on Wednesday (January 10) in order to help out buddy Darryl Henderson, who has been on trial for the last month for a gruesome triple murder which occurred on January 21, 2002, a block and a half away from Yankee Stadium. If convicted of the charges, Henderson could possibly face the death penalty.
In his testimony, N.O.R.E. stated that he did not know that the defendant and others who traveled with him on tours had criminal backgrounds. Under a prosecutor's cross examination, he described his touring as being a wild party in which he sometimes smoked marijuana prior to performances and regularly chased women.
In opening statements, Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Rody claimed that Henderson and two members of Murder Unit, a street gang that sold crack cocaine and marijuana around Yankee Stadium, committed the murders in order to steal 30 kilograms of cocaine, with an estimated value of over $500,000.
He also contended that the victims were stabbed more than 20 times and that all three had their throats slashed. Rody claimed that within three days of the murders, the killers fled to Miami where they spent their time, "drinking, partying, posing for pictures and spending the money they made from the stolen cocaine."
"I don't want to see him go to jail, no," N.O.R.E. said of Henderson. He also testified that he met the defendant in the Bronx in 1998 or 1999 and befriended him, allowing him to go on tour as a roadie, running errands including ordering food and drinks for performers. He also testified to befriending members of Murder Unit, but denied having any knowledge of them having violent histories, selling drugs or carrying weapons.
While the prosecution is looking to paint the Murder Unit as a violent gang, the defense contends that they were merely a rap group made up of neighborhood men looking to make it in the music industry. Defense attorney David E. Patton told jurors that his client did not kill anyone and has never been in a gang, but admitted to his client selling drugs at one point.
"Frankly, given the predicament Darryl is in right now, Murder Unit may well be the worst name in the history of names," he stated.
While the prosecution aimed to attack what they saw as N.O.R.E.'s questionable memory, he firmly testified that Henderson had not been at the center of any of the violence that he recalled while the two were in each other's company. He also defended the group's dubious name and his reasons for allowing them to go on tour with him.
"Hardcore hip-hop tends to sell more records," N.O.R.E. said on teh stand. "It's about selling an image.
"The torch was handed to me to do it for somebody else," he added of attempting to help the group. He also said, outside the courtroom that, "He's my man. They're trying to make it something that it's not. I believe he's innocent."