Twitter’s increasingly ubiquitous presence may reach a new level when the site is invoked in court as evidence in a murder trial involving two young men who grew up together in Harlem.
According to the New York Daily News, the city’s prosecutors intend to present the trial with tweets that passed between the victim, Kwame Dancy, 22, and the man accused of killing him, Jameg Blake, also 22.
The angry exchanges are alleged to point to the ill-feeling that existed between the two, which according to charges spilled over on to the streets of Harlem, where Dancy, who was training to be a nurse, died after being shot in the neck on 1 December. The gun was reported to have been found in Central Park.
Dancy and Blake lived on the same floor of a high-rise block on West 132nd Street, Harlem. The governor of New York state, David Paterson, lives one floor above them. The two young men are said to have had a fraught relationship, which boiled over last summer in rivalry over a woman.
The tweets the police may subpoena as evidence were written only hours before the shooting. Dancy appeared to be referring to Blake when he posted “Niggas is lookin for u don’t think I won’t give up ya address for a price betta chill asap!”
Blake posted several aggressive tweets, though only one, written two days after the killing, directly referred to Dancy personally: “R.I.P. Kwame.”
Dancy’s mother, Madeline Smith, told the New York Daily News last week that the pair had been friends and that the angry words expressed on Twitter were no excuse for violence.
“That’s not a reason to shoot somebody,” she said. “That’s crazy. I don’t know what’s going on with that Twitter thing.”
Blake is being held without bail in a New York prison. Last week he pleaded not guilty to murder at an initial court hearing.
Police also intend to submit video evidence recorded at about the time of the shooting, allegedly showing Blake carrying a bag big enough to hold a gun.
Defence lawyers say they have phone records that show Blake was on the phone at the time of the shooting. — Guardian