'Stalker' retrial horrifies Ashanti
Grammy-winning R&B singer Ashanti has said she is appalled at the prospect of facing her accused stalker again in court, but is determined to see the case through after a mistrial.
A juror's illness prompted a mistrial during deliberations in Devar Hurd's case in New York, which marks the second time in five years he has been tried on charges of harassing the singer or her relatives.
"I'm shocked and horrified at the thought of going through this ordeal again, but I will do whatever it takes to make sure my family is safe and that justice is served," Ashanti said.
Ashanti, 34, told jurors she was "disgusted ... and absolutely scared" when she realised last year that Hurd was behind a Twitter account sending her X-rated messages and had posed for a photo with her younger sister at an event, despite a court order not to contact the family.
"I didn't know what he was capable of," said the multi-platinum-selling singer, who said she hired extra security.
Hurd, representing himself, cross-examined her in a sometimes odd courtroom scene peppered with objections from prosecutors and admonishments from the judge to Hurd to stick to rules for cross-examination.
Would-be rapper Hurd said he never meant to harm Ashanti or her family and portrayed his raunchy tweets as adult communication about "sex, lovemaking and emotional heartbreak", adding that some other messages were just about her career.
But Ashanti noted the no-contact order that followed his 2009 stalking and harassment conviction, which involved crude text messages he sent her mother about her daughter. Hurd spent about two years in jail.
Ashanti's hits include Foolish and Only U, and she also has acted in films including Coach Carter and John Tucker Must Die. This year she released two albums, Braveheart and A Wonderful Christmas With Ashanti, an expansion of an earlier recording.