A man accused of murdering an up-and-coming rapper who was fatally shot at the Beverly Center last year was found not guilty Friday by a Los Angeles jury.

The trial of Aubrey Berry, an events promoter from Atlanta, revolved in part around the victim’s violent rap lyrics as the defense sought to portray the rapper as a threatening gang member who was shot as he attacked Berry.

Berry, 24, testified last week that he acted in self-defense and that he opened fire when the musician, whose real name was Roderick Anthony Burton II, threatened to kill him and reached behind as if to draw a weapon.

Berry told jurors that Burton, 21, had been part of a group of men who beat him at an Atlanta nightclub less than two weeks before the shooting. He said the two men ran across each other by chance on May 18, 2009, inside a P.F. Chang’s restaurant at the upscale mall.

But prosecutors argued that Burton’s lyrics were simply entertainment and that they had no bearing on what happened outside the restaurant in the mall’s parking garage. 

They noted that police never found a weapon on Burton.

And prosecutors accused Berry of shooting the musician in the back as he tried to flee. Burton was shot four times – once in the left biceps and three times in the back.

--Jack Leonard

Photo: (left) Roderick Anthony Burton II was an up-and-coming rapper known as Dolla.

Photo: (right) Shoppers are evacuated from the Beverly Center after the shooting.

Credit: Los Angeles Times

Earlier today, reporter Jack Leonard and editor Matt Lait discussed the case: