TRIAL BEGINS FOR MAN CHARGED IN KILLING OF RAPPER DOLLA

A prosecutor said Tuesday an accused murderer “took measured shots” at a rapper in a valet parking area at the Beverly Center, while a defense attorney countered that his client fired in self-defense.

Roderick Burton — a 21-year-old rapper who went by the stage name “Dolla” and “was poised to break out as a big star in the rap world” – was “senselessly gunned down … in a hail of gunfire” from Aubrey Louis Berry, Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace told jurors.

In all, the Atlanta man fired eight shots at Burton — who was in town to work on his debut CD — and two other men who were with the rapper in the valet parking area of the busy Los Angeles shopping center on May 18, 2009, the prosecutor said.

The prosecutor told jurors that the chain of events began 11 days earlier at a strip club in Atlanta, where Berry bumped into the rapper’s girlfriend and a mass fight ensued.

Defense attorney Howard R. Price countered in his opening statement that Berry, at the urging of his friends, left P.F. Chang’s China Bistro after seeing Burton inside the restaurant.

Burton and his “crew” walked out of P.F. Chang’s shortly after Berry left the eatery, and the rapper approached his client and said, “What’s up, cuz?” the defendant’s attorney told jurors.

The rapper then told Berry, “Today, you’re going to die,” and made a motion for a gun, according to the defendant’s attorney.

“Mr. Berry had his gun … He didn’t wait to see what was going to happen,” believing he was about to be shot, Price told jurors.

“He (Berry) didn’t come looking for trouble. He didn’t come to murder anybody,” Price said. “This case is, as I said, a case of self-defense.”

Berry, now 24, is charged with one count of murder, along with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

Grace told jurors they would hear testimony that Berry fired eight shots “perhaps for revenge, perhaps out of anger, perhaps just for the heck of it,” with four of the shots striking Burton as he tried to run away.

Berry calmly ordered a parking lot valet to get his rented Mercedes-Benz SUV, then drove to Los Angeles International Airport, where he bought a ticket back to Atlanta and waited for a friend to bring his luggage so he could put the handgun in a carrying case, the prosecutor said.

A valet parking attendant wrote down the vehicle’s license plate number before it left, and Berry surrendered at the airport after being approached by airport police, according to Grace.

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