By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer
COVINGTON - Dennis Greene Sr. took the stand Tuesday to defend himself against allegations that a rap video he recorded after his wife's death was meant as a celebration of killing her.
Seven clips from five profanity-laced videotapes of Greene drinking and smoking marijuana while on the run in Chicago were the focal point of most of the testimony Tuesday, the fourth day of his murder trial in Kenton Circuit Court.
Greene is charged with murder in the May 4 death of Tara Barrett Greene, his 28-year-old wife, who was a teacher at Holmes Junior High School.
Greene described the urban culture of rapping to the jurors, a majority of whom are white, middle-aged Covington residents. He said what he was doing on the video was "free-style rap - Chicago style."
Even with the sound enhanced, much of the tape was inaudible. But at times it sounded more like a confession than a song.
Some of the lyrics went like this:
"I was waiting on Tara. The (expletive, expletive) made me mad.
I had to end her life. Now I'm sad.
I really don't care about tomorrow. The (expletive) made me mad.
She kept at it and I had to take her (expletive) life. It's just Dennis Greene and I ain't got a (expletive) wife.
The jury of eight women and four men - plus one man serving as an alternate - watched the television intently.
The animated man on tape appeared much different from the defendant in court. In the video, 31-year-old Greene sported cornrows and seemed to brag. In the courtroom, Greene had a shaved head and spoke soberly about his wife's death. He was wearing a gray V-neck sweater with a white shirt, a black tie and pants.
In one clip played to the jury, Greene was recorded saying, "I knew I was going to give it to her when I got home." Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Christy Muncy, a co-prosecutor on the case, has argued that statement shows Greene left work early with the intention of killing his wife on May 4. Greene admitted he made the statement, but says he meant he was going to argue with his wife.
In another segment, Greene is recorded saying he knew he wasn't coming back to work after leaving early on the day of the killing. But Greene said in court that he simply thought he was going to get fired for leaving early on a Sunday.
Muncy had tried to counter that claim early in the trial by calling Greene's supervisors to the stand. Each said they were not angry with Greene at that time and had no plans to fire him.
Greene worked as a senior child care worker at a Northern Kentucky home for troubled youths.
Public defenders Mary Rafizadeh and Stephanie Durstock have argued that their client "snapped" the day of the killing and acted under extreme emotional disturbance, a state that would diminish his level of culpability.
Greene told jurors the video was supposed to be a farewell statement to his friends and was not intended to glorify his wife's killing. He said he planned to kill himself but lost the nerve to pull the trigger when U.S. marshals showed up at the apartment where he was staying.
At one point on tape, Greene wonders aloud while rapping if the heavenly gates are open to someone who commits suicide.
And in one of the final clips played for the jury, Greene said:
"You need to recognize the real Greene man. I'm not the one he wants to (expletive) with. I already did one murder."
The trial continues today with closing statements.
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