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Swedish rapper accused of road rage claims self-defense in fatal Hollywood confrontation

January 13, 2010 |  5:26 pm

The trial of a Swedish hip-hop artist accused of murdering a pedestrian who slapped his SUV began Wednesday with a defense attorney asserting that the late night killing in a Hollywood crosswalk was self-defense.

In his opening statement, the lawyer said David Jassy, a 35-year-old songwriter and producer from Stockholm, got out of his rented vehicle and assaulted pedestrian John Osnes, a 55-year-old jazz pianist, because he feared for his own safety as well as that of his girlfriend and the SUV itself.

“He finds himself confronted with an angry drunk who has been hitting his car,” attorney Alec Rose said. “He exercised his lawful right ... to defend himself, his girlfriend and his property.”

The prosecution contends that Jassy was the aggressor in the November 2008 encounter. Deputy Dist. Atty. Sarika Kapoor told jurors that Jassy’s failure to yield to Osnes, who was walking home from a neighborhood piano bar, triggered the confrontation and that his decision to get out of his car turned what might otherwise have been an exchange of unpleasant words into murder.

“That choice is why you are all here today and John Osnes is not here,” Kapoor told jurors. The first witness, a passenger in a nearby vehicle, testified that Osnes smacked the hood of the SUV after it nearly struck him, but retreated to the sidewalk as soon as Jassy got out.

Rebecca Rinn broke into tears as she described Jassy punching Osnes repeatedly and then kicking him in the head when he stooped to retrieve his glasses. The blow, she said, rendered him immediately unconscious. “It threw Mr. Osnes into the air and onto his back... I saw his head hit, and it just kinda bounced off the ground,” she said.

Jassy drove away, rolling over Osnes’ body. His lawyer said Wednesday that Jassy fled in fear and didn’t realize Osnes was on the ground. In pretrial proceedings, Jassy tried unsuccessfully to have the case reduced to manslaughter. If convicted of murder, he faces a possible life sentence.

-- Harriet Ryan

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