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New York man convicted of murder after rap lyrics used as evidence

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An accused New York City gang member was found guilty of a slew of violent crimes, including three murders, on Thursday after a trial in which his boastful, graphic rap lyrics were used as evidence against him.

A Brooklyn federal jury convicted Ronald "Ra Diggs" Herron, 32, of all 23 charges against him, from racketeering to drug trafficking to gang-related killings between 2001 and 2009, following the month-long trial.

Prosecutors used Herron's "gangsta rap" videos - in which he boasts about belonging to the infamous Bloods street gang, firing weapons and dealing drugs - to argue the lyrics documented his crimes.

Herron's lawyers argued that the lyrics were not autobiographical, but were commentary on crime, violence and drug wars in the inner city.

Following the verdict, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said Herron used the lyrics to glorify his "criminal lifestyle."

“He styled himself a rap artist, but the jury’s verdict makes clear who Herron really is, a drug dealer and murderer who sought power through fear and intimidation," she said in a statement.

The American Civil Liberties Union has said there are about 18 cases nationwide in which rap lyrics have been introduced to help convict defendants.

(Editing by Andre Grenon)

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