Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Mistrial looms in Biggie case

An LAPD detective allegedly hid records for years that fingered two crooked cops in Notorious B.I.G.'s slaying, lawyers for the rapper's family revealed yesterday. The stunning development delayed the family's wrongful death suit against the city of Los Angeles until tomorrow and could result in a mistrial.

A secret file and two tapes - in which a prison snitch says crooked cop Rafael Perez confessed he and rogue officer David Mack helped set up B.I.G.'s 1997 murder - were stashed in a detective's "middle desk drawer," family lawyer Perry Sanders Jr. said. City lawyer Vincent Marella said Detective Steven Katz "just forgot they were in there" until about 12 days ago when he began preparing to testify.

But Judge Florence Marie Cooper, who has repeatedly ordered cops to turn over all investigative files concerning the slaying of the rapper, also known as Biggie Smalls, didn't buy it. "The notion that Katz forgot about the file is incredible to the court. It defies credulity. I do not believe it," the judge said. She will decide tomorrow what to do about the alleged police misconduct.

The family's lawyers want her either to declare a "default judgment," in which she would find the city responsible for Biggie's slaying and advance the trial to the monetary damages phase, or a declare a mistrial. The city wants the trial to go forward as if nothing happened. The lawyers for Biggie's family contend that Mack, who was then an LAPD cop, conspired with the rapper's bitter rivals at L.A.-based Death Row Records to have him killed in retaliation for the earlier murder of Tupac Shakur, who had been Death Row's star.

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