Amanda Upshaw
Criminal Justice
Who Killed Biggie Smalls?
Today we will be discussing the murder trial of Christopher Wallace better known by his stage name “The Notorious B.I.G, Biggie, or Biggies Smalls. I will provide examples of opening and closing statements, questions asked during direct examination as well as highlight important points of cross examination. I plan to provide you with knowledgeable information from the trial initiation up to the verdict. The murder of Christopher Wallace took place outside of Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California right before 1a.m on the morning of March 9th, 1997. Twenty years after Wallace’s death no one was ever charged in the murder.
On July 6th, at the Los Angeles Courthouse a wrongful death suit was filed by Voletta Wallace, the mother of the deceased rapper Christopher Wallace. (Vineyard,2004). Search and seizure relates to this case by the facts that was released in the reports from the FBI in 2011. It had been proposed that there was possible corruption regarding the Los Angeles Police Dept. The suspect could more than likely be one or more of the LAPD officers. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, n.d). Along with witnesses failing to tell the truth and allowing certain individuals to go free of criminal charges. (Vineyard,2004).
To begin the trial process, we will start with the pre-trial, mostly done in high-profile cases such as the B.I.G wrongful death suit. And then the jury will be selected. The jury selection is guaranteed by the sixth Amendment stating, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.” Requiring that all proceedings against a defendant in the case must start within a certain amount of time. Both attorneys interview potential jurors inside the courtroom.
After the jury is selected we will move into the next stage with opening statements from both attorneys. “Opening statements should not be argumentative, they should be persuasive and confined to just facts of the case, that can be proved as evidence.” (How Courts Work, 2017). An example of an opening statement for the prosecution would be “Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, we are here today to determine who murdered Christopher Wallace, also known as Notorious B.I.G in cold blood. We will prove that Mr. Suspect had the motives and means to put a hit out on Mr. Wallace and had him killed because of the loss of Tupac Shakur. I intend to use evidence that will be examined and displayed, by calling several eye witnesses who not only saw Mr. Suspect at the scene, but also heard him claiming to be the murderer. It is my hope that in conclusion of this trial we will find that the defendant is guilty of the murder. Thank you very much.”
Once prosecution gives opening statements defense has their chance to present theirs. An example would be: “Good morning Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. I represent the defendant Mr. Suspect, I will not try to paint a pretty picture of how wonderful he is, you will be hearing numerous testimonies stating the complete opposite. Mr. Suspect has had many run ins with the law and has a very extensive criminal background. I am here to prove to you that the state has no evidence to uphold their claim that the defendant played part in the murder of Mr. Wallace. By the end of this trial I know that you will find my client not guilty on all charges. Thank you.”
During direct examination the prosecution could ask questions such as how, when, who, where and why. (How Courts Work,2017). The defense or the prosecutor would want to state questions that mainly pertain to the case. (How Courts Work,2017). On the night of the crime who was in the entourage for Mr. Wallace? (Notorious B.I.G Wrongful Death Lawsuit Dismissed, 2017). Is the man here today that shot Mr. Wallace? Who first realized something was wrong?
Cross examination of the defense witnesses is limited to questioning only, they must be based on matters that was brought up during the direct examination. (Pitofsky,2009). The point of cross examination will be used to confirm the integrity of the statements made by witnesses in the case during direct examination. (How Courts Work, 2017).
Both sides should conclude with presenting examination of witnesses and ask jurors to evaluate evidence and point out flaws in the defense case. The defense will give closing statements and then the prosecution gives their closing statement by addressing the jury, “In my opening statement, I told you we would prove that Mr. Suspect is the person responsible for the murder. You have heard testimony from numerous eye witnesses whom saw Mr. Suspect commit this violent act. You have seen the evidence that the car matched the description of the shooters car and belonged to the suspect in this case. When the police searched his home, they found a shrine to Tupac in his garage with five 9mm guns; the same weapon used to kill Biggie. A stash of Greco 9mm ammunition; also, the same used to kill the victim. As well as the dropped anonymous call accusing LAPD’s Officer Suspect of being Biggies murderer but LAPD said there was over 500 people with the same last name. There couldn’t be anyone else responsible. The defense is trying to get you to look in every direction but the direction of Mr. Suspect. We ask that you please look at him. Look at the evidence and see that Mr. Suspect killed Biggie in cold blood and bragged about it to his friends. We should hold people accountable for their actions, please hold Mr. Suspect accountable we ask you for justice. Do the right thing and find him guilty of all charges in favor of the Plaintiff in the wrongful death of her son Christopher Wallace. Thank you.”