San Diego Rapper Pleads Not Guilty To Gang Conspiracy Charge
Thursday, December 4, 2014
A San Diego rapper with alleged gang ties pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges linking his violent lyrics to nine shootings.
Brandon Duncan, 32, was charged with gang conspiracy under a law that allows for the prosecution of gang members if they benefit from or promote crimes committed by other gang members. His trial was set for next month.
The nine local shootings connected to Duncan's case occurred between May 2013 and February of this year.
"They're charging Brandon Duncan with crimes that the District Attorney admits that he had no involvement in or even knowledge of. That is the definition of injustice," defense attorney Brian Watkins said outside court.
"It's really given a black eye to the legal system here in the DA's office," the attorney said. "To charge someone with crimes while admitting he had no knowledge of those crimes. Based on his artistic expression, he made a rap album — a rap album that's actually made in 2012. These shootings occurred in 2013 — so there's absolutely no connection."
Duncan — unlike five co-defendants — refused to waive time and had his trial set for Jan. 23.
The defendants were recently bound over for trial after a preliminary hearing.
More than a dozen documented gang members are charged in the case.
"It's important for the community to understand that this case is not about punishing someone for rapping and it's not about a First Amendment issue," according to a statement from the District Attorney's Office.
"This case is about protecting our neighborhoods by taking violent gang members off the streets and holding them accountable for the crimes they commit using a law that voters passed and the court has recognized as constitutional."
Duncan — also known as Tiny Doo — has been making rap music since he was 14 and has worked with such artists as Lil' Wayne.
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