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Attorneys Make Opening Statements in Sean 'Puffy' Combes Trial

Aired January 29, 2001 - 4:50 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: One of our other stories today on trials and the celebrities in them, the trial of Sean "Puffy" Combs. That rap star is accused of gun possession and bribery charges, which stem from a 1999 shooting at a Manhattan nightclub.

For the latest on that story, we check in with CNN's Michael Okwu in New York -- Michael.

MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joie, as expected, verbal fireworks in the weapons and bribery trial of Sean "Puffy" Combs today. During opening arguments, prosecutors for the first time accused the rap star of firing a gun inside Times Square nightclub as one of his proteges allegedly shot and wounded three bystanders.

Combs is not accused of shooting any one in the December 1999 incident. He was arrested after he fled the scene with companion Jennifer Lopez, a driver and a bodyguard. All four were held after a gun was found in the car.

Lopez was not charged in the case, but could be called as a witness.

Today, the assistant district attorney accused Combs of throwing a second gun out of the window as he fled and initiating -- quote -- "relentless, unremitting pressure" to get the driver to claim ownership of a gun found in the car.

For its part, the defense claimed the prosecution is picking on Combs because he's famous. Often slamming his hand on the jury box, defense attorney Benjamin Brafman said -- quote -- "This prosecution is about fame and celebrity, not about a search for truth and justice."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN BRAFMAN, COMBES ATTORNEY: Our client is not guilty, and all he wants is a level playing field and his day in court. And now that we're here, we're eager to proceed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OKWU: The jury is made up of seven blacks and five whites. If they find Combes guilty on all charges, he could face up to 15 years behind bars -- Joie. CHEN: CNN's Michael Okwu in New York for us.

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