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When Rap Lyrics Convict The Singer…

Murder Conviction Thanks to Rap Lyrics

One of the reasons that so many people like rap music is that it offers little slices of life, real things that have happened to the rappers. Sometimes it shows off parts of their childhood, the things they love and fear, or bad times they’ve had. Other times it offers up evidence in a murder trial that gets the rapper convicted. That’s right, there was a rapper who murdered someone at an Olive Garden, and then wrote and rapped about it in a song.

What Happened at the Olive Garden?

Gonzales “Snoop” Wardlaw, who might want to change that middle moniker in case Mr. Dogg (or Lion) finds out about it, received a life sentence in prison in February of 2014 for the murder of Thomas T. Hoefer after a drug deal went sour. Wardlaw went to the parking lot of the Olive Garden restaurant to buy marijuana from Hoefer and ended up shooting him fatally in the chest. The reason for shooting and killing him was reportedly because he was unhappy with the quality of the weed he’d just bought.

In Custody But There Was Little Evidence

Wardlaw was a suspect, but they didn’t have anything that would help them get a conviction until they happened across some incriminating lyrics while they were searching his home. Some of the lyrics included lines such as “caught ‘em at the Olive Garden”, and “hit ‘em in the chest”.

Lyrics Held As Good Evidence

Since Wardlaw wrote the lyrics, they were admissible as evidence in the case as “admission by a party-opponent”. This simply means that they were a statement of someone who was a part of the case. Wardlaw admitted that the lyrics were his, and so they were entered as evidence. Since they are party admission, they are not hearsay. They are actual tangible pieces of evidence, and it was that which helped to convict him.

Not the Only Time This Happened

This is interestingly not the only time that this has happened. In 2007, police in Newport News, Virginia were having trouble solving the murder of Christopher Horton and Brian Dean. The young men, 16 and 20 respectively, were shot while they were sitting on a front porch. Four years after the double murder, a detective found a video from a local rapper, known by the name Twain Gotti. The detective had received a tip about the song, which included the lyrics “Everybody saw when I choked him. But nobody saw when I smoked him, roped him, sharpened up the shank then I poked him, 357 Smith and Wesson big scoped him, roped him.”

In this case, the lyrics led to his arrest, but his defense attorneys were able to exclude the lyrics from the trial, which cleared him of the murders. He did receive a 16-year sentence for weapons charges though. The New York Times estimates that over the course of the last several years, rap lyrics have been an important part of close to forty cases. It makes you wonder just how many more times we will be seeing these types of lyrics popping up in cases down the line.

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