DETROIT – The man authorities say killed the rapper Proof in lawful defense of another man during a nightclub shootout was convicted Wednesday of two weapons charges related to the incident.
Following a three-day trial, a jury found Mario Etheridge, 28, guilty of carrying a concealed weapon and discharging a firearm inside a building. The concealed weapon charge is punishable by up to five years in prison; the second charge carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison. However, Etheridge could be sentenced to only probation because he has no criminal record, Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Walker told the Detroit Free Press.
Authorities say Etheridge shot and killed Proof, whose real name was Deshaun Holton, after Proof fatally shot Etheridge's cousin, Keith Bender. Etheridge's lawyer has said that Proof was set off by a dispute over a game of pool at the CCC, an after-hours nightclub on Detroit's Eight Mile Road.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has said Etheridge acted lawfully in defense of Bender when he fired at Proof. But she said Etheridge shot twice at the ceiling in an effort to stop Proof before aiming the gun at him. Those shots were the basis for the charge of illegally firing a weapon.
"No one can calm a violent situation down by introducing a weapon," said Walker, who handled the case. "Today's verdict proves this."
A message seeking comment was left for Etheridge's attorney.
Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 17 before Wayne County Circuit Judge Vera Massey Jones.
Proof, 32, was a member of the rap group D12 and was a close friend of Grammy- and Oscar-winning rapper Eminem, who spoke at his funeral.