DA: Freeport man gets 47 years to life in gang rival's slay

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A Freeport man convicted of murdering a hip-hop artist outside a Hempstead nightclub in May 2011 was sentenced Tuesday to 47 years to life in prison for his crime.

Ramiek Smalls, 24, was convicted in December of second-degree murder, second-degree assault and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the death of Lawrence Hartman, 28, also of Freeport. He was sentenced by Nassau County Court Judge Norman St. George.

"Today's sentence will never undo the pain and suffering that this defendant has caused, but I do hope that it brings some semblance of closure to Mr. Hartman's loved ones," Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a news release.

Smalls' defense lawyer, Dennis Lemke of Mineola, said his client will appeal.

"He maintains his innocence, as he has throughout the case," Lemke said.

Prosecutors said Smalls and two other men, Michael Toney, 33, of Uniondale, and Richard Paul, 24, of Floral Park, went to the Rumba Sky nightclub after midnight May 31, 2011, to confront Hartman, a hip-hop artist and rival gang member as part of a yearlong feud.

A fight broke out in the parking lot shortly before Hartman was to perform in a show at the bar, prosecutors said. Smalls shot Hartman in the abdomen and left thigh, prosecutors said.

Hartman died from his wounds two hours later at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.

Smalls, Toney and Paul left the scene immediately, but were arrested about a month later, prosecutors said.

Toney pleaded guilty to second-degree gang assault and third-degree attempted assault, and was sentenced to a year in jail. Paul pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and is awaiting sentencing.

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