Rap Lyrics Condemn Murder Defendant

By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 07, 2017 | Last updated on February 06, 2023

Ravinseh Singh, more a killer than a rapper, murdered Joe Montoya when he shot him point-blank in the face. Singh added three more shots to make sure: twice in the stomach and once in the groin. Appealing his conviction, Singh argued the trial judge should not have allowed jurors to hear rap lyrics he wrote, including "two to the gut, watch you shut your eyes slow." The appeals court called any mistake "harmless" and affirmed in People v. Singh.

A Cousin and His Dog

In 2008, Singh stepped out of a car into the middle of a marijuana deal and shot Montoya. As he fled in the car, Singh told the driver that Montoya had been part of a drive-by shooting of a cousin and his dog years earlier. After an eyewitness identified Singh, police found more evidence in his home. They collected physical evidence, including his handwritten rap lyrics such as: "Shot before I shoot my gun ... I shoot for fun just to watch n***** shake like they goin' dumb. Put two in your chest, now you goin' numb." Singh moved to exclude the lyrics from trial, but the court found they were relevant to the defendant's intent and identity. The jury convicted, and the judge gave him 50 years to life.

Intent and Identity

On appeal, Singh argued that the judge abused her discretion. The panel disagreed. "Here, defendant's intent and identity were at issue, and the lyrics provided circumstantial evidence that he intended to and did in fact kill Montoya," they said. "All sorts of statements by a defendant can show motive, intent, and identity." The appeals court cited People v. Lang, in which the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's admission of a defendant's statement, when asked approximately one month before a murder why he carried a gun, that, "I'll waste any mother f***** that screws with me." Related Resources:
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