NYC gang member gets 12 life sentences after his rap lyrics are used as evidence against him

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A New York City rapper received 12 life sentences after being charged with several gang-related violent crimes, including three murders. Included in the evidence against him were his own rap lyrics.

On Thursday, 33-year-old Ronald “Ra Diggs” Herron was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn, New York, after a jury in June 2014 found him guilty of the 23 charges against him. The charges included drug trafficking, racketeering and murder, all taking place between 2001 and 2009.

Part of the evidence against Herron were his “gangsta rap” videos and lyrics. While prosecutors pointed to Herron’s rap videos, which included references to being in the Bloods street gang and to dealing drugs and firing weapons, Herron’s lawyers claimed that the lyrics were commentary on the general atmosphere of crime, violence and gangs and were not meant to be taken as actual stories from Herron’s life.

However, the jury disagreed with the defenses claims, and Herron received 12 life sentences plus 105 years.

On Thursday, Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said the sentence would end Herron’s “brutal, unrelenting violence,” continuing on to add, “Herron styled himself a rap artist, but the evidence proved that he was a murderous thug who sought power through violence, fear and intimidation.”