Two weeks after Shawty Redd fatally shot a man in his Atlanta mansion, the successful young producer faces life in prison if convicted on murder charges. As Shawty Redd claims self-defense, LINDA HOBBS uncovers new details about the deceased, a man known in the streets as “Choppo.”
Two weeks after Demetrius “Shawty Redd” Stewart was arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of Damon A. Martin, questions still linger, details remain sketchy, and friendships look torn.
The 28-year-old Atlanta producer behind hits like Young Jeezy‘s “Trap or Die” and Snoop Dogg‘s “Sexual Eruption” has been charged with murder and is facing life in prison if convicted. Ever since the New Year’s Day shooting, Stewart has been held in a Henry County jail without bond. At Henry County Superior Court on Tuesday, Judge Brian Amer set his bond at $200,000. Shawty Redd is now free on bail and will be allowed to make music, but must wear an ankle bracelet and stay within county limits.
Until his appearance in court, few details had been revealed about what happened inside Shawty Redd’s Ballymeade Lane mansion in the gated community of Crystal Lake. “Mr. Stewart was attacked in his own home, and he was well within his rights to defend himself with force,” Stewart’s attorney, Marcia Fuller, said during the bond hearing. “His acts are insulated by the law. It’s in the Georgia Code that you can defend your home, yourself, and even property outside of your home, with deadly force, and not be prosecuted for it.”
A day after the hearing, Fuller told VIBE: “Demetrius was absolutely defending himself during the incident,” she said. “His career will continue. At this point we are waiting for the district attorney to make a decision as to whether or not they are going to go forward on this matter or dismiss it.”
According to a source within Shawty Redd’s camp who is familiar with Tuesday’s court proceedings, two of the producers’ associates reportedly testified that Martin was “an intruder” who was shot in self-defense, although the police report refers to him as an “associate.”
But according to a source speaking exclusively to VIBE, the deceased—who has been identified as a 35-year-old father from Southfield, Michigan—was actually a close friend of Stewart’s known in the streets as “Choppo.”
In a 2008 interview with Custom Whipz TV for a cover story in Custom Whipz magazine, Stewart shouted out Choppo and his six-member posse Geto Kingz—that includes Detroit artists Doeboy Reese, Supreme, Big Mudd, Hustleboy Tony Trice, and the crew’s founder Muff Man.
“So who you working with from the D?” the interviewer asked. “Geto Kingz, I know you fucking with them.”
“Aw, yeah, can’t forget about my Geto Kingz n***as out there man,” Stewart said. “They show a n***a much love man. What up big homie Choppo! What up my n***a!”
According to Martin’s best friend—a Detroit producer and engineer who goes by the name Beatz by Squeak—Martin was not an intruder to Stewart’s home, and the relationship between the two was much deeper than most people suspect. “He damn near made Shawty Redd,” says Squeak, who picked out Martin’s funeral outfit. “It’s way more to it.”
In his first interview since the shooting, Squeak shed new light on the man Shawty Redd is alleged to have murdered. “Damon wasn’t the kind of guy that was all for the fame and the ‘shouting out’ and all of that. Cause it was almost obvious what he was doing. And people around seen and knew. Gucci Mane knows Choppo personally. Jeezy knows Choppo personally. They know the relationship of Shawty Redd and the Geto Kingz family. Shawty Redd calls Damon ‘big homie.’ I mean, you don’t call somebody ‘big homie’ if they’re not your big homie.”
Squeak says he met Damon Martin around 1986. “We were like 8 or 9-years-old,” he says. “We were next-door neighbors actually. We grew up in Southfield, Michigan so it was the suburbs, it was a nice neighborhood. We went to Southfield High School. He was really into sports, and was actually a professional speed skater. He was a quarterback football player in high school. He was real popular.”
Squeak says he was the one who inspired Martin to get into the music industry. “I’ve been making music pretty much all my life and I started building my own studio,” says Squeak. “When he heard my stuff, he really gained interest and that’s what really inspired him to try to find a way to get my beats heard. This was maybe ’99 or 2000.” Describing his friend as “a hustler,” Squeak says, “He was selling our CDs and really just trying to get the production part of it off. He was pushing our music.”
According to Squeak, Martin met Shawty Redd in 2004 in an Atlanta strip joint called Club Blaze. He remembers Martin calling him to say he bumped into a producer working on Young Jeezy’s new album. Martin’s goal became introducing his crew, Geto Kingz, to Stewart, who at the time was attempting to cement his own credentials in the music industry. According to Squeak, Martin paid Shawty Redd to make beats for Geto Kingz, and also lavishly supplied the producer with money for other expenses.
“Damon was there for him,” Squeak told VIBE. “Back then, Shawty Redd wasn’t really that financially stable. [So] Damon helped Shawty Redd out a lot. A whole lot. Car payments, house payments…just anything he needed, all the way down to groceries and cigarettes. Even when he got into his car accident [in 2007], my man paid for the Benz to get out the shop. It was times Shawty Redd didn’t have anything and Damon was always there through the years. He told me that him and Shawty ripped a dollar bill in half and Shawty promised that when he got on, he would be there for Damon, because he respected him being there for him. And Damon always kept that half of the dollar bill in his wallet, and Shawty Redd did as well.”