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Jury hears closing arguments in trial for alleged Hawthorne pimp

9/13/2011, 5 p.m.

LOS ANGELES, Calif.--A prosecutor told jurors that an accused Hawthorne pimp who calls himself "King Snipe" should be convicted of forcing two teenage runaways to walk the streets for him, but the defense countered that the alleged victims cannot be believed because they were prostitutes before they met the defendant.

Leroy Bragg, 35, is charged with 12 counts, including human trafficking of a minor, soliciting and pandering of a minor, burglary, kidnapping and lewd acts on a child. He is accused of forcing the two girls to work for him as prostitutes in the nighttime streets and motels of Los Angeles and Orange County.

One of the girls, a then-14-year-old from Upland, was snatched off the streets of South Los Angeles by Bragg and taken to his apartment where she was raped by Bragg, Deputy District Attorney Marcia Daniel told the panel during closing arguments at the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles.

Daniel told jurors that the weeklong trial provided a rare glimpse into the inner workings of "the game," the world of pimp and prostitute or, as she put it, "predator and prey."

Prostitution was "the world in which these girls lived," Daniel said, conceding that the victims were familiar with the life before they encountered Bragg.

However, that fact doesn't alter evidence that proves Bragg "put (the victims) out on the street to work for him as prostitutes and that they gave him their money," Daniel said.

In his closing statement, defense attorney Daniel Milchiker told jurors that the primary witnesses against his client should not be considered victims because they were prostitutes who never worked for Bragg.

Milchiker told jurors not to "put your full faith" in the girls, who worked such streetwalker-ridden areas as the intersection of West 41st Street and South Western Avenue for the benefit of a man other than "King Snipe."

The girls' testimony "of being forced into this world of prostitution was a lie," Milchiker told the jury.

"The entire foundation of this case was predicated from a lie," he said.

Bragg, dressed in a dark suit, slouched next to his attorney during the hearing.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations Wednesday.

Daniel opened her summary by reminding the panel that one of the girls had the phrase "King Snipe's Bitch" tattooed over her right breast to show that she was "the property" of the defendant.

Bragg was arrested Sept. 28, 2010, after a foot chase through backyards near his Hawthorne apartment.

He is being held on $1.3 million bail.

As a "third-striker," he faces up to life in prison if convicted, according to the District Attorney's Office.

By Fred Shuster | City News Service