A drug kingpin from Brooklyn’s Gowanus Houses had his lawyer argue that his rap alias should not be considered during his murder trial, the New York Daily News reports.
Ronald Herron has described his “Ra Diggs” rap persona as a “fictional gangsta rap character.” One much “like … Johnny Cash who tells us he ‘shot a man in Reno just to watch him die,’ or Bob Marley who claims he shot the sheriff, but not the deputy – [song lyrics] cannot fairly be construed to mean the words express admissions of personal conduct, acts or even the author’s true beliefs,” said Robert Soloway, Herron’s lawyer.
Federal prosecutors claim Herron’s music videos are proof he led a dangerous drug crew from the housing projects. They have cited “Slow Down,” a song Herron made where he claims he “beat a body” and “went head to head with [ex-Brooklyn District Attorney] Charles Hynes office and never lost.” The latter lyric is in reference to a successful murder acquittal for Herron.
Soloway also attempted to paint the lyrics as born of frustration. “Much of Ronald Herron’s work is a commentary on urban crime and violence, drug wars and the utter lack of hope in the inner city he knows,” Soloway said. He also added that Herron’s lyrics are protected under the First Amendment.
Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis is expected to rule on whether the videos and a bulletproof vest Herron wore while officers arrested him in Gowanus for littering can be admissible evidence against him.