MARIO ETHERIDGE was yesterday (20SEP06) convicted of two gun charges relating to the murder of D-12 rapper PROOF. The hip-hop star was shot dead in April (06) after an altercation with Etheridge's cousin KEITH BENDER at an after-hours club on Detroit, Michigan's famed Eight Mile Road. Proof - real name DESHAUN HOLTON - shot and mortally wounded bouncer Bender before Etheridge fatally opened fire on the rapper. Etheridge was ruled to have killed Holton in lawful self defence but he was convicted in Michigan's Wayne Circuit Court of carrying a concealed weapon and unlawfully firing a gun. He could be sentenced to as many as nine years behind bars. Etheridge's attorney, RANDALL UPSHAW, told the court the fight between Bender and Holton began after a disagreement over a game of pool. Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor KYM WORTHY told the court Etheridge fired two shots into the air in a bid to stop the fight - the basis for the unlawfully firing a gun charge. Prosecutor ELIZABETH WALKER said, "No one can calm a violent situation down by introducing a weapon. Today's verdict proves this." Etheridge will return for sentencing on 17 October (06), and Walker hinted he may only be sentenced to probation because he is a first time offender.
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