NEW YORK (AP) – Enduring a tenacious cross-examination at her perjury trial, tiny hip-hop diva Lil’ Kim insisted on Friday that she never meant to mislead a grand jury with her eyewitness account of a 2001 gunfight.

“This was a very serious situation,” Lil’ Kim testified. “I could not come into a grand jury and purposely tell false statements and lie.”

Lil’ Kim – confronted by prosecutor Cathy Seibel with evidence she owes nearly $1 million in back taxes – told jurors she leaves decisions about her finances to her manager and accountant.

She also claimed she signed a tax statement listing the value of her jewelry at $40,000 without reading it. The real figure was about $500,000.

“If you’re an entertainer, if you’re in this business, this is how you delegate it,” she said.

Lil’ Kim later philosophized about coping with life’s traumas, comparing getting caught in the middle of the shootout outside a rap radio station to the slaying of her legendary mentor, Notorious B.I.G., and even the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

It was “a heartfelt day – like the day Biggie as killed, and 9/11,” she said when questioned again by her lawyer, Mel Sachs. “I’m the type of person, I just shut down and move on. I don’t live in the past.”

Lil’ Kim, 29, known for her risque wardrobe and raunchy raps, and her personal assistant have pleaded not guilty to perjury, obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges. Closing arguments at their trial were expected next week.

Authorities say the gunfire erupted when Lil’ Kim’s entourage crossed paths with that of rival hip-hop group Capone-N-Noreaga on Feb. 25, 2001, outside WQHT, or HOT 97. One man was injured as more than two dozen rounds were fired on the sidewalk.

After witnessing the shooting, Lil’ Kim allegedly lied under oath to protect two of the shooters – her manager, Damion Butler, and a friend, Suif Jackson – who since have pleaded guilty to gun charges.

Taking the witness stand in her own defense on Thursday, Lil’ Kim testified that she felt she was a victim of the shooting, and blamed prosecutors for “badgering” her during the grand jury investigation in 2003. At that time, she claimed Butler wasn’t there and she couldn’t recognize a mug shot of Jackson – a position she has maintained at trail.

“I don’t remember seeing Damion,” she said Thursday. “That’s the bottom line – I just don’t remember.”

The jury has heard Antoine “Banger” Spain and James “Lil’ Cease” Lloyd – Brooklyn rappers who once teamed with Lil’ Kim in a group called Junior M.A.F.I.A. – testify that they saw Butler and Jackson at the radio station with her. Security photos taken at the station show Butler opening a door for her and the pair outside together just moments before the shooting.

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