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Rap videos shown as evidence in New York gang murder trial

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rap videos that show a New York murder defendant claiming to be a gun-toting gang member were shown in court on Thursday, prosecutors said, despite his attempts to have the clips barred from evidence.

Ronald "Ra Diggs" Herron, who faces 23 counts of murder, drug trafficking, racketeering and other charges, can be seen rapping about belonging to the Murderous Mad Dogs, a Brooklyn-chapter of the Bloods gang and carrying firearms in some of the six videos entered as evidence.

In one, entitled "Live by the Gun", Herron rhymes alongside rapper Waka Flocka Flame and describes a revenge killing of a person who previously shot him five times.

"I'm a Murderous Mad Dog... I'm a real gun-cocker," Herron says in the video, which is filled with profanities and violent threats.

In another, called Slow Down Remix, Herron says, "See if he was smart he would have shot me in the head / Because I can get you shot from a hospital bed."

Herron asked the court to have the videos excluded as evidence in the trial, arguing in court filings that the lyrics were not autobiographical but rather a commentary on crime, violence and drug wars in the inner city.

In May, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis denied the request, saying that a jury should decide how much credence to give to the videos as evidence.

Herron is accused of three gang-related killings in New York's Brooklyn borough between 2001 and 2009. He was indicted in 2012.

The American Civil Liberties Union has previously cautioned judges to consider the constitutional protection of freedom of speech when weighing the value of evidence. The group said that there are about 18 cases nationwide where rap lyrics have been introduced to help convict defendants.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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