Beanie Sigel murder case ends in mistrial. The jury is deadlocked on accusations that the Jay-Z protege tried to shoot a Philadelphia man

By Gary Susman
Updated April 28, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

The jury in the Beanie Sigel attempted murder trial spent more time deliberating than they did hearing testimony, but after five days, they were still deadlocked on Tuesday. The judge in the Philadelphia case was forced to declare a mistrial, the Associated Press reports. As a result, the million-selling rapper and Jay-Z protégé, who could have faced 20 to 40 years behind bars, may go free. It was not clear if the prosecution would retry the case.

Sigel (real name: Dwight Grant) had been accused in the shooting of Terrence Speller, who claimed the rapper shot him in the foot and the abdomen after an argument at a West Philadelphia bar last July. Sigel’s defense attorneys challenged Speller’s credibility by getting him to admit that he’d changed the story he told to police several times, and that he’d been under the influence of alcohol and marijuana at the time of the shooting.

The nine-day trial was marked by gallery visits from the Roc-A-Fella rapper’s celebrity supporters, including rapper-producer Kanye West, Roc-A-Fella label chief Damon Dash, and mentor Jay-Z and Beyoncé, who usually keep their relationship on the down-low but who made a rare joint public appearance at the courthouse last Friday.

Even if he’s not retried, the 30-year-old Sigel still faces legal battles in two other cases, which have kept him from finishing his long-awaited follow-up to his 2001 CD, ”The Reason.” He has another assault trial pending, stemming from an incident in which he allegedly fractured the eye-socket of a 53-year-old man. Last week, Sigel pleaded guilty to federal drug and weapons charges that arose after a 2002 traffic stop. He faces a possible three years in prison; sentencing is scheduled for July 8.