Skanbino Mob Member Trial Starts

Opening statements in the murder trial of Deion

"Bone Skanless" Smith of the Skanbino Mob were heard Friday (September

6). Smith is facing murder and weapons charges for the May 21, 2001 murder of

a Flint, Michigan man.

According to the Flint police, they found Maurice

Baker, 29, bleeding from gunshot wounds to his chest and pelvis. Moments later

police pulled stopped a car driven by Smith and passenger Dwan Brown. Police

claim they found blood in the back seat and a shell casing. Both men are charged

with first-degree premeditated murder and weapons charges.

Brown was arrested two days before the trial

began on carrying a concealed weapon and being a habitual offender. Brown copped

a plea and will testify against Smith. Prosecutors have dismissed the murder

and weapons charges against Brown, who will now face no more than 7 1/2 years

in prison.

Smith will plead self defense, saying that he

shot Baker in self defense and that he "reacted to a thug trying to rip

him off." Smith claims that his success as a rapper led others to believe

he was more successful than he was, making him a prime target to be robbed.

Witnesses are telling a different story. Two

people in the neighborhood have identified Smith as the gunman, saying that

Brown lead victim to a car and told him to get into the back seat. The driver,

Smith, then got out and appeared to fire several rounds at Baker.

The witnesses admit that they saw no weapons

in Smith's hands, they only heard the shots and the flash from the gun. Police

recovered a 9mm Glock handgun in the area that matched the cartridge cases found

in Smith's vehicle.

According to court records, Smith has been on

disability with a bone disease since he was 12 years old, and also has scleroderma,

a disease that causes hard, thick skin due to abnormal fibrous tissue growth.