Rap Music Video Used as Evidence to Convict Men for a String of Robberies
In another lesson of "what not to post on YouTube," a group of men are learning that tip the hard way after their rap music video got in the hands of prosecutors.
According to The New York Times, the video, which was inspired by Jay-Z and Kanye West's song "The Joy," garnered over 2,000 views and featured three men toting guns, conducting an armed robbery wearing masks, and then getting away in a black Mercedes. The problem? Prosecutors allege that the three men were completing armed robberies the exact same way when the cameras weren't rolling as welfor
The paper reports that the real crimes included a string of armed robberies in the Bronx and Westchester County, in which a group of armed men stole thousands of dollars from bodega owners and deliverymen.
Five members of the group have now been convicted, including Dwayne Barrett, who can be seen driving the Mercedes in the music video. Prosecutors say that in the actual robberies, the same Mercedes was used with Barrett as the driver. Taijay Todd, who pleaded guilty in February to participating in robberies, portrays a gunman in the video.
The Times reports that prosecutors had listed the music video as evidence, and defense lawyers urged the judge to preclude it from being introduced. One defense attorney,
Steven Brill said in a court filing via The Times that the music video was irrelevant to the charges, instead serving as "an artistic work, professionally made for entertainment purposes."
Brill explained, "Mr. Todd is doing nothing more than playing a fictional role in a fictional presentation."
The prosecutors strongly disagreed. Amy Lester and Jessica A. Masella said in court papers that the video provided facts, including that Mr. Todd, Mr. Barrett and a third man who played the other robber, "knew one another, had access to guns and a connection to the Mercedes."
"In our view, this is all very powerful evidence of several of the elements that we need to show at the trial," Ms. Masella said.
According to the paper, Judge Sullivan ruled that prosecutors could introduce the video, which jurors did watch.
On Tuesday, March 19, both men were convicted of robbery conspiracy and other charges, for which they could face life in prison.
Watch the video below.