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Murder Motive Of Toronto Rapper Smoke Dawg Condemned In Court

Almost four years after rapper Smoke Dawg, real name Jahvante Smart, and his manager were shot outside a Toronto nightclub, a jury is set to begin deliberations in the trial of suspected murderer Abdulkadir Handule.

According to The Star, the prosecution and defense delivered their final remarks to masked jurors on Tuesday (February 22). Because of the holidays and the pandemic, the trial had been continuously delayed since November. Handule never testified, but his lawyer Dirk Derstine acknowledged that Handule was one of three shooters who opened fire outside the Cube nightclub in June of 2018. The prosecution asserted that Handule targeted Smoke Dawg that night, which Derstine denied.

Abdulkadir, Derstine said, chased Smart and fired at him - probably not intending any good for him and yes, indeed, he shot him when he was on the ground. However, you are not here to decide whether or not he is a good human being, like Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. It is solely your responsibility to decide if he is legally guilty of the various charges.

Derstine added the shooting was not targeted but rather, the result of an "adolescent, stupid, testosterone-laden argument on the side of Queen Street." He said the bouncers at the club commonly saw violence of this nature. "These two young men said something stupid to each other, which led to something stupid and ultimately tragic," he said.

In his closing statement, Derstine argued that first-degree murder, which requires proof of a deliberate plan, isn't a viable charge either and that there was no way to prove that the bullets from Handule's gun directly killed either victim.

In addition to arguing Smoke Dawg was taunting Handule before the shooting, the defense also argued he was the first to fire shots, a claim the prosecution also acknowledged. Even so, prosecutor Anna Tenhouse argued that by showing CCTV footage, Handule and his friends not only plotted violence that night, but also instigated it with "three minutes and 41 seconds of Mr. Handule taunting, gesturing, making threats, and throwing an object at Mr. Smart and reaching for his own gun."

Superior Court Justice Brian O’Marra told the jury he would deliver more legal instructions on Wednesday prior to the jury’s deliberations.

Smoke Dawg first gained recognition in 2015 for his Mo-G collaboration “Still,” which scored 2.4 million views on YouTube and 1.37 million streams on SoundCloud. His track “Trap House” earned 3.4 million views on YouTube and inspired French Montana to hop on a remix. Drake was also among the many rappers who shared their condolences after Smoke Dawg’s passing, the 21-year-old lyricist even made a few appearances on his Boy Meets World Tour.

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