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Rap Singer Faces Charge of Murder : Violence: Snoop Doggy Dogg surrenders to police after eluding them long enough to appear at MTV awards. The singer's lawyer says the fatal shooting was done in self-defense.

September 04, 1993|MATHIS CHAZANOV and CHUCK PHILIPS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Rap singer Snoop Doggy Dogg turned himself in to face a murder charge after eluding detectives long enough to announce a winner at the MTV awards ceremony, Los Angeles police said Friday.

The singer, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, was wanted in the shooting death of Phillip Woldemariam on a street in the Palms district last month.

"The deceased was a 25-year-old male who apparently had been in a verbal confrontation with Snoop Doggy Dogg," said Lt. Otis Dobine, commander of detectives at the LAPD's Pacific station.

To be featured on the cover of the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone magazine, the admitted former drug dealer emerged as a rap star after his guest appearance last year on "The Chronic," an album by controversial rapper and producer Dr. Dre. Broadus wrote or co-wrote the biggest hits on the album, which has sold more than 2 million copies and has been on the charts 35 weeks.

The Long Beach native is known for his slow, almost lazy delivery, which distinguishes his work from the frenetic energy of others in his genre.

His solo album, delayed for six weeks because of production problems, is expected to top the charts when it is released in the next few weeks, music industry sources said.

"Snoop Dogg is an amazing artist, and his album is by far the most anticipated rap album in years," said Jon Shecter, editor of Source magazine, the nation's leading hip-hop journal. The arrest "will only make the record blow up even bigger because it will generate even more curiosity among those who have never heard of him."

"My name is the key to my life," the rapper told Vibe magazine, another hip-hop publication. "I don't like nobody snoopin' on me--I snoop on them."

Witnesses told police that Broadus was at the wheel of a late-model Jeep that cruised by a park near the corner of Palms Boulevard and Motor Avenue at 7:20 p.m. Aug. 25. After a hostile exchange of words and gang hand signals, he and passengers in the Jeep drove away, only to return a few minutes later.

Broadus and his companions told police that Woldemariam then approached the car and pulled a gun, after which a passenger, who said he was a bodyguard for the singer, fired several shots from the right front seat.

But other witnesses said the victim never displayed a firearm, Detective David Straky said.

Broadus' attorney, David Kenner, said Friday that, over the past three months, Woldemariam had threatened the rapper's life by holding a gun to his head and hitting him.

"This shooting was the result of self-defense following a series of assaults and threats against Snoop," Kenner said.

Woldemariam recently was released from prison after serving a one-year jail term for shooting a gun in a schoolyard. A condition of his probation was to stay away from gang members, according to court records.

Having negotiated his surrender through an attorney, Broadus failed to show up when the two other suspects in the killing turned themselves in earlier Thursday, Dobine said. Detectives then went to the Universal Amphitheatre, hoping to seize the 6-foot-4 rapper after he went on stage to announce the winner in the rhythm-and-blues category of the televised MTV awards, "but he eluded us," Dobine said.

Escorted by his attorney, the singer showed up at the police station later that night.

He was released on bail Friday afternoon, with no date set for his arraignment.

The other two suspects, Lee McKinley and Sean Smith, both 23, are scheduled for arraignment on murder charges at the West Los Angeles courthouse Tuesday.

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