Opening Arguments In Proof Shooting Case Focus On Rapper's Mindstate

Detroit rapper Proof's state of mind was the central point examined Monday (Sept. 18) as lawyers began opening arguments in the trial of Mario Etheridge, the man responsible for the lyricist's death.

Etheridge, who isn't charged with killing Proof, is charged with illegally firing a weapon in an occupied building and carrying a concealed weapon.

According to assistant Wayne County prosecutor Elizabeth Walker, the D12 rapper never reached for his weapon until Etheridge let off warning shots into the ceiling of the CCC Club on Eight Mile Road as Proof was fighting with another man.

As a result, the incident was taken "up a notch," Walker argued: "That was the first display, the first use, the first time anyone knew about a weapon."

Proof (born Deshaun Holton) was fatally shot by Etheridge during the Apr. 11 incident after he shot the bouncer's cousin, Keith Bender, in the face, said authorities, who added that the chain of events was sparked after Etheridge fired two pistols.

Proof died at the club of multiple gunshot wounds. Bender died a week later.

The trial, which is expected to last two days in Wayne Circuit Court, is the latest chapter in the continuing story surrounding Proof's death.

In May, prosecutors announced they would not press murder charges against Etheridge, saying he acted lawfully in defending Bender.

A wrongful death lawsuit charging that the rapper was known to carry weapons and had "violent propensities" was filed in Aug. against Proof's estate by Bender's family, who is seeking an undisclosed amount.

Etheridge's attorney, Randall Upshaw, countered Walker as he told jury members that his client wasn't aggressive until Proof shot his cousin.

If convicted, Etheridge could face a maximum of five years in prison on the concealed weapon charge and four years for discharging a firearm.