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Swedish rapper's defense in road rage killing is 'laughable,' prosecutor says

January 28, 2010 |  6:50 am

A Los Angeles jury is set to begin deliberations today in the case of a Swedish hip-hop artist accused of murdering a pedestrian during a 2008 confrontation in a Hollywood crosswalk.

David Jassy, 35, a rapper and music producer who has worked with pop acts including Ashley Tisdale, faces a potential life sentence if convicted in the death of John Osnes, a 55-year-old jazz pianist.

Prosecutors contend that Jassy became enraged when Osnes, a stickler for pedestrian rights, struck at the hood of Jassy's rental SUV as it drifted into the crosswalk. Jassy responded, prosecutors say, by leaping from his vehicle, punching and kicking Osnes and then running over his body.

Jassy maintains that “crazy” behavior by Osnes put him in fear for his life and the life of his girlfriend, a passenger in the vehicle. He testified that Osnes threw the first punch and insisted that he was unaware he drove over Osnes’ body as he fled the scene.

In closing arguments Wednesday, a prosecutor urged jurors, who have the choice of acquitting Jassy of all criminal culpability in Osnes’ death or finding him guilty of murder or manslaughter, to return a verdict of first-degree murder.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Sarika Kapoor called Jassy’s account of the encounter “laughable.” “What person gets out of their locked vehicle when they are scared? That makes no sense,” she said. Defense attorney Alec Rose addressed the jury only briefly Wednesday afternoon before court recessed for the day. He called Jassy “an innocent man” and said the evidence supported his acquittal.

-- Harriet Ryan

Read more about John Osnes -- including links to past stories on the case -- on The Times' Homicide Report