Kenneth McGriff Murder Trial Starts


years after the murder of rapper Eric "E Money Bags" Smith, the man

believed to have orchestrated the crime stood in front a Brooklyn, New York federal

courtroom to answer for the crime.Opening

arguments in the trial of noted drug kingpin Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff

began Tuesday (Jan. 9) as US Attorney Jason Jones presented McGriff as the mastermind

who hired the gunmen responsible for the July 2001 slaying of Smith and Tony Singleton,

a drug dealer. The

men were killed in retaliation for the murder of Colbert Johnson, according to

investigators. Johnson, an associate of McGriff's, was gunned down two years ago.McGriff

is on trial for racketeering, racketeering murder, drug dealing and money laundering.Prosecutors

argued that Singleton's death was the result of his status as rival drug dealer.

Some of McGriff's old associates and co-conspirators are expected to testify,

stated Jones, who added that records of text messages would also be called into

evidence. Text

messaging was the method allegedly used by McGriff to transmit orders to carry

out crimes."He

is a drug dealer and a murderer," Jones said.The

trial is the latest chapter in the saga of McGriff, who gained notoriety in the

1980s as the leader of a drug empire in the Baisley Park area. The

lifestyle eventually landed McGriff in federal prison for eight years. After his

release in the mid-1990s, McGriff tried his hand at success in the music and movie


Jones told jurors, was a man who continued to live a life of crime as he enlisted

teams of hit men to carry out murder plots. Prosecutors

claimed that the 46-year-old laundered drug profits through the rap record label

Murder Inc. The label's owners Chris and Irv Lorenzo were acquitted of money laundering

charges in 2005.McGriff's

defense attorney David Ruhnke disputed accusations that McGriff had a hand in

murders and said the violence and deadly atmosphere of the drug life motivated

his client to leave that lifestyle behind him. He

also encouraged jurors to maintain an open mind while critically assessing the

testimony of the witnesses.If

convicted of the murders, McGriff faces the death penalty.