Prosecution Rests in the Case against Aubrey Berry, Accused of Killing Rapper

By Alex A. Alonso
STREETGANGS.COM STAFF WRITER

May 13, 2010 | 11:27 p.m.
updated: May 15, 2010 | 5:45 p.m.

– Judge David Wesley was not able to reside over the rest of the trial because of a family emergency according to the court

Roderick "Dolla" Burton

LOS ANGELES, Calif – After seven days of testimony the people have rested in the murder case against Aubrey Berry, who was 23 when arrested on May 18, 2009 for the kil#i*gg of Roderick “Dolla” Burton at the Beverly Center shopping mall in Los Angeles. Burton was an aspiring rapper signed to Akon’s label who had been visiting Los Angeles from Atlanta.

On Monday, Judge David Wesley was not able to continue presiding over the trial and Judge Michael Pastor replaced Judge Wesley. Defense attorney Howard Price called for a mistrial because he felt that it would be impossible for the court to step in during the course of this trial and be able to critically evaluate the self-defense claims. Price stated that “it would be an insurmountable task for the court to step in” at this time. Deputy District Attorney Robert (Bobby) Grace responded that he was confident that the court can acquaint itself with the case in a timely manner to move forward. Judge Pastor stated that he considered Price’s concerns serious but denied the motion for mistrial stating that he could fulfill his duty to do justice in this trial.

Before testimony began on Monday, the defense stipulated that defendant Berry had flew to Los Angeles from Atlanta on Saturday May 16, 2009 and complied with all rules in the transportation of his Taurus 9mm hand gun. It had been widely rumored that Berry had owned a registered weapon in Georgia, and both the prosecution and defense stipulated to the fact that Berry actually complied with all airline rules when transporting his weapon. Although his weapon was registered in Georgia he did not have a permit to carry his weapon in the State of California.

The first witness on Monday was Sadiq Abawi, also known as DJ Shabazz, one of Burton’s best friends that was present when he was ki*led. He began testifying last week and was taken out of order. His direct examination was completed so Monday morning he was under cross examination by defense attorney Price. Abawi stated that he, Roderick “Dolla” Burton, William “Scrap” Robinson, & Syria Sylvers had all spent the night at Damian “T-Money” Jackson’s condo on May 17, 2009 and woke up the following morning at about 10:00am. At about 1:30pm they started their day and decided to get something to eat at P.F. Chang’s China Bistro at the Beverly Center.

Was anyone Smoking Weed?
Price asked Abawi if they had smoked marijuana that day and he denied that he or Burton smoked marijuana and he further stated that Burton never smoked marijuana during those few days in Los Angeles. Abawi testified that he and Burton were best friends and according to a police report he told the LAPD last year that, “we all got matching tattoos, we are close like that,” but during testimony he denied that he had ever said that. Price asked Abawi how did he know that no one smoked marijuana, and he replied that he was with Burton and he had never seen him do that. Sylvers also testified that there was never any marijuana smoking going on, but on Tuesday Dr. John J. Treuting, a toxicologist, provided conflicting testimony that Burton had 11 nanograms of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active drug, and 59 nanograms of Carboxy THC, an inactive portion of marijuana. The 59 ng represents a build up of marijuana typical of a regular user and the 11 nanograms was reflective of recent use that day according to Dr. Treuting.

Based on Dr. Treuting’s testimony Burton smoked marijuana before being ki*led and since we know that Burton and his friends all woke up at about 10:00 am, Abawi and Sylvers had to know that Burton smoked a marijuana blunt either after they woke up in the condo or in the car drive to the restaurant which would have occurred in the presence of Abawi, Robinson & Sylvers. It’s understandable that Abawi and Sylvers would not want to admit to any type of drug use by them or Burton, but denying a fact that is going to get revealed regardless only hurts the prosecution’s presentation of this case to the jury. Dr. Treuting’s testimony contradicts the testimony of Abawi and Sylvers, two eyewitnesses to the kil#i*gg.

Events inside P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
Testimony continued about the events that occurred inside the Beverly Center restaurant when Burton and Berry by complete coincidence crossed paths again after their altercation at the Platinum 21 strip club in Atlanta where Berry was victimized after being confronted by Burton and his friends nearly two weeks before. Abawi stated that while they were seated in the restaurant they noticed Berry walk by their table to go into the bathroom. The group had been sitting at the nearest booth to the bathroom of the restaurant and Abawi stated that he did not recall Berry return back after he exited from the bathroom to presumably return back to his booth. Sylvers also provided testimony that Berry had walked by their booth when going to the bathroom but she added that there was a conversation at the table between Burton, Abawi and Robinson referring to Berry but she did not recall what was said.

Price asked Abawi why did they decide to leave the restaurant, because he is arguing that they deliberately followed Berry out, but Abawi stated that they left after they finished eating. A screen capture from the restaurant’s surveillance camera shows that Berry while on a cell phone exited the restaurant at 3:04 pm and 20 seconds. At 3:05 pm, the video shows Burton walking with Abawi behind him, followed by Robinson and Sylvers moving in the same direction as Berry. Abawi denied that he or anyone in his group had looked towards the left, apparently in the direction of Berry, but the surveillance shows that all three men walking in a line, with Burton in the lead, appeared to be looking for something or someone.

Price asked Abawi if they had paid for their meal before they left, and Abawi responded that the bill was $97.00. According to Abawi, Burton paid $100.00 and that he paid $20.00 for the tip but during the preliminary hearing last year, evidence was introduced that they did not pay for their food and that Burton, Abawi, Robinson and Sylvers abruptly left the restaurant without paying. They did have left-overs, so there is no doubt that they were done with their meal and most likely preparing to leave anyways, but if they did not pay for their bill, they may have left abruptly to confront Berry outside. Sylvers also testified on Monday that “Bucc” (Roderick Burton’s other nick name) paid the bill with cash, but she did not know how much money was placed on table.

On Wednesday, defense witness Ali Darwish, who was having lunch with Berry provided additional information about what occurred in the restaurant. His testimony further emphasized the coincidental nature of their second violent encounter in less than two weeks, more than 2,000 miles away from both their homes. Berry was in Los Angeles to work on an after party to the BET awards with Darwish when they decided to have lunch on May 18, 2009 to discuss the particulars. Since Darwish lived in Los Angeles, he asked Berry to pick him up from his home which was not that far from the Beverly Center and then they would go to P.F. Chang’s for lunch. They arrived, ordered appetizers, and were joined later by two other persons. About 20 – 25 minutes into their lunch, Berry gets up to use the bathroom. Abawi and Sylvers both testified seeing Berry walk by to use the restroom and video from two angles reveal this.

There was no testimony that any conflict or argument occurred inside the restaurant, but when Berry returned to his table, Darwish testified that Berry was a bit disturbed by coincidentally seeing Burton. According to Darwish, Berry told him that Burton was a Mansfield Crip member and Darwish emphatically told Berry that he should leave immediately to prevent any gang-related conflict. District Attorney Dhanidina on cross examination challenged the notion that Berry told him that Burton was a Mansfield Crip member because, according to the police report, Darwish did not mention that to the police. Darwish blankertively stated that he told the police either Mansfield Crip or just Crip when interview after the shooting. Additionally Dhanidina asked Darwish if he asked Berry to leave, not after he came back from the bathroom seeing Burton, but after he noticed Berry had a weapon in his waist. Darwish denied that and firmly stated that he told Berry to leave after he told him that there was a Mansfield Crip in the restaurant. He continued to state that about one minute later, Berry had left, but the video shows that Berry stayed at the table with Darwish for approximately 10 more minutes before leaving.

The Shooting
Robinson had drove the car to the restaurant but when leaving, the video shows Burton in the lead walking out, and he ultimately ends getting closer to the valet areas where Berry is waiting got hid car. Abawi testified that it Burton was going to be driving back to the condo. Abawi stated that he noticed that Berry was staring at Burton, and that words were exchanged when Burton asked Berry, “What’s happening?” Defense attorney Price asked Abawi if Burton said, “What’s happening cuzz?” a phrase that would be considered a gang “hit up” or an aggressive challenge. Abawi denied that Burton ever said “cuzz” and he was not aware of any gang connotations that “cuzz” had. Then he testified that Berry backed up, and when asked if he seemed scared by Price, Abawi replied “a little.” Berry pulled out a gun and began shooting.

It seems plausible that Berry would have felt threatened and according to diagrams presented, the position of the three men are as follows; Burton standing in front of Berry, with Abawi to Burton’s right, and Robinson further right. In an interview that Te-Money (Burton’s close friend) did for Ozone Magazine last year, he stated that he could see why Berry may have felt threatened because “there is three of them and one of him” and he referenced the previous altercation in Atlanta as a source of his fear.

Sylvers who was standing close by also heard words exchanged between Berry and Burton but testified that it was Berry that said, “What’s happening cuzz.” There has not been any evidence to suggest that Berry was a gang member or a Crip so her recollection of Berry using the word “cuzz” seems unusual.

Sadiq testified last week that Burton asked, “What’s happening” and that Berry did not respond but nevertheless after words were exchanged, Berry pulled weapon, and fired. Sylvers turned and ran south back into the restaurant while her back was facing the shooter. She stated that Abawi and Robinson began to run too. After running into the Bistro, she met with Abawi who also followed in, and she testified that Abawi told her to get the car, essentially asking her to go back into the line of fire. Sylvers stated that she could not go get the car. Abawi stated that he ran into the Bistro and noticed Sylvers at the door and did not know where “Bucc” and “Scrap” were. Abawi decided to go back out to see where his two friends were, and he heard Robinson yell to go back into restaurant, which he did. After Berry was seen driving off in his silver Mercedes Benz SUV, Abawi went back outside and noticed his friend Burton on the ground. Robinson was the first one to Burton’s body and then Abawi came.

During cross examination Price asked Abawi if he retrieved a weapon off of Burton’s body and he replied “No.” Price asked Abawi which door of the Bistro did he exit from when coming back outside. There is a door facing the street and an opposite door that leads to the under ground parking, and Abawi did not recall which door he used.

Burton’s Injuries
According to the coroner, Dr. Raffi Djabourian, Burton died from multiple gun shot wounds. He was struck four times, once in the left bicep, and three times on his back side, with two bullets entering his back and another one entering his left buttock. Dr. Djabourian testified that the top bullet that entered his back was a rapidly fatal gun shot that would have incapacitated Burton within 30 seconds and that he most likely could not have ran more than 50 feet, but according to one of the exhibits, Burton’s blood trail cover an area of about 200 feet.

The shot to the bicep has an unusual trajectory where that portion of the arm would have to be parallel to the ground to be consistent with that wound. Defense attorney Price suggested that the arm was reaching backwards in the same type of motion that one would retrieve a weapon from their backside if they were armed. The coroner agreed that Price’s explanation for the unusual trajectory is one possible scenario. When Price asked for other possible scenarios to describe the bullet wound to the bicep, the coroner stated that those scenarios would be unusual and unlikely. But prosecutor Dhanidina asked the coroner if the victim ducked down and moved arms backwards, could that also describe a possible scenario and Dr. Djabourian agreed.

Dr. Marvin Pietruszka, a pathologist called by the defense also agreed that the arm had to be reaching or moving backwards to sustain that injury, and he further added that he believed with a high degree of certainty that the bicep shot was the first shot and the shots to Burton’s back occurred after he turned and attempted to flee. The coroner would not opine to the order of the shots.

Posted by on May 13 2010. Filed under Features, People of CA v. Aubrey Berry. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

17 Comments for “Prosecution Rests in the Case against Aubrey Berry, Accused of Killing Rapper”

  1. COOL

    SOMEONE IS LYING

  2. COOL

    SOMEONE IS LYING

  3. COOL

    IF DOLLA HAD A GUN THEN WHERE IS IT AND IF HIS SO CALLED FRIENDS TOOK THE GUN THIS WOULD OF SHOWED ON TAPE SI THE DEFENCE IS COOKING UP SOMETHING AND IT IS LIES

  4. COOL

    IF DOLLA HAD A GUN THEN WHERE IS IT AND IF HIS SO CALLED FRIENDS TOOK THE GUN THIS WOULD OF SHOWED ON TAPE SI THE DEFENCE IS COOKING UP SOMETHING AND IT IS LIES

  5. COOL

    PRICE IS LYING DOLLA DID NOT HAVE A GUN AND THEY TRYED TO SAY HIS FRIENDS TOOK IT DUMMYS THIS WOULD BE ON TAPE THAT HIS FRIENDS TOOK THE GUN PRICE NEEDS TO GO HOME AND RETIRE AUBREY WANTED TO ki*l DOLLA BECAUSE WHY HE SHOT HIM SO MANY TIMES

  6. COOL

    PRICE IS LYING DOLLA DID NOT HAVE A GUN AND THEY TRYED TO SAY HIS FRIENDS TOOK IT DUMMYS THIS WOULD BE ON TAPE THAT HIS FRIENDS TOOK THE GUN PRICE NEEDS TO GO HOME AND RETIRE AUBREY WANTED TO ki*l DOLLA BECAUSE WHY HE SHOT HIM SO MANY TIMES

  7. candy

    howard price is all about money he did everything in his power to get aubrey aquited because dolla was not there to defend himself because if this was self defence aubrey would of shot him in the bicept then maybe the leg this man li,ke others are ki*lers and need to be in jail if children was there they could of been shot the jugde was all about getting even and the jururs are bias and do not no anything about the streets anybody with common sense nos this was murder

  8. candy

    now did anyone call for security when they did not pay for there meal that does not sound right

  9. candy

    now did anyone call for security when they did not pay for there meal that does not sound right

  10. candy

    if dolla ran after aubrey shot him in the bicep HOW COME THIS IS SO CALLED SELF DEFENCE DOLLA MOTHER WILL HAVE TO GO BACK TO COURT

  11. candy

    if dolla ran after aubrey shot him in the bicep HOW COME THIS IS SO CALLED SELF DEFENCE DOLLA MOTHER WILL HAVE TO GO BACK TO COURT

  12. candy

    NOTHING PROVED DOLLA WAS IN A GANG his mother said whoop blank does not prove nothing talking about a gun in his songs is not proof aubrey using self defence and then kil#i*gg dolla is enough proof to believe he ki*led him because he was mad about a fight they had if aubrey felt threatened why when dolla ran he kept shooting CAN ANYONE ANSWER THIS IF THIS WAS SELF DEFENCE

  13. OF COURSE NOT

    AUBREY SHOT HIM IN THE BICEP THEN HE KEEPS SHOOTING THEN DOLLA RUNS WHAT KIND OF SELFDEFENCE IS THIS YOU PEOPLE HAVE NO MORALS kil#i*gG A YOUNG MAN THEN THE GREEDY LAWYER CLAIMING SELF DEFENCE AND THE JUDGE AGREEING WHAT KIND OF WPORLD IS THIS WHEN PEOPLE MAKE EXCUSES FOR AUBREY BECAUSE HE COULD OF CALLED THE POLICE IF HE WAS SO SCARED AND LET THEM HANDLE IT OR TOLD HIS PEOPLE HE WAS WITH TO GET THE CAR OR SOMETHING ANYTHING BETTER THAN MURDER

  14. APRIL29

    aubrey berry and the people who aquited him are vindictive

  15. APRIL29

    can we all get along

  16. keila

    For t-money to claim to be so kool with Dolla why would he jump on his ki*ler’s side & say Aubrey had a reason to be scared. I may be wrong but I think that was all a huge setup, another thing why would the business man aubrey had dinner with tell him to leave that’s stupid what he should’ve said was wait until they leave if he felt so “disturbed”. Since he did leave why didn’t he just jump in his car & drive off & why he had to be staring Dolla down when he exited the restaurant, I don’t care what nobody says berry planned this from him walkin by their table to him just sitting outside cux he knew they probably were gonna follow behind. All I have to say is R.I.P DOLLA I hope your family especially your mom gets some kind of justice.

  17. cside

    platinum rappers…

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