Eric R. Baldwin, charged in a robbery that left the...

Eric R. Baldwin, charged in a robbery that left the victim dead, leaves Nassau Police headquarters on Nov. 4, 2021, in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Two of three men facing murder charges in a Long Beach man’s slaying pleaded not guilty Friday after what authorities said was a deadly armed robbery in which the suspects stole more than $50,000 that the victim won in a lawsuit.

Last month a grand jury indicted Corey Grier, 27, of Freeport, and Todd Brant, 21, of Middle Island, on charges that include second-degree murder and multiple robbery counts.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Terence Murphy remanded both back to jail Friday after Nassau County Court arraignments. Their co-defendant Eric Baldwin, 25, of Freeport, also is jailed without bail after pleading not guilty Wednesday to offenses that include the same murder and robbery charges.

Police have alleged Baldwin shot James Diamond on Sept. 10 as the trio of men robbed Diamond, 28, of Long Beach, and a friend of his on South Bay Avenue in Freeport. Prosecutors said Friday that another male suspect also is under investigation for his alleged participation in the violence.

Prosecutor Nicole Aloise told the judge Friday that Grier and Brant acted in concert with others while robbing and causing the death of Diamond. Members of Diamond’s family were in court but later declined to comment.

The defendants "saw an opportunity for a payday for themselves" after learning Diamond had just gotten a large legal settlement and held him up at gunpoint before he was shot in a struggle with them, Nassau District Attorney Anne Donnelly said in a statement later Friday.

Police said previously that the slaying happened after Grier learned Diamond was planning to cash a check covering a $55,000 legal settlement he had won. They said the two were in the same rap group and on Sept. 9 were recording music and partying together.

Police said Grier went with Diamond the next day to a check-cashing store where Diamond got the money. But Grier also told his co-conspirators Diamond had the money and then arranged for Diamond to buy illegal contraband in front of a Freeport home, according to police.

They also alleged that after Diamond and a friend arrived at the location, the suspects forced them of out a car before Baldwin fatally shot Diamond while stealing the cash. Police said the suspects fled in two vehicles and that the stolen cash hasn't been found.

Prosecutors provided more details Friday about the allegations. They said Diamond drove with a friend to get his check at a Long Beach law firm on Sept. 10 before the pair picked up Grier and went to the check-cashing business.

Grier then directed them to the South Bay Avenue location before Diamond and his friend left to try to deposit the cash in a nearby bank, according to prosecutors. They said that in the meantime, Grier called Baldwin and Brant and told them to meet him on South Bay Avenue.

Prosecutors said when Diamond and his friend returned, Baldwin and a male who had been in Brant's vehicle forced Diamond and his friend out of the vehicle they were in at gunpoint.

A struggle began before Diamond was shot in his mid-torso and Baldwin took Diamond's bag of cash and fled, according to prosecutors. A felony complaint identifies Baldwin as the shooter.

Detectives arrested Grier, Brant and Baldwin on Nov. 3. A day later, police arrested Anyibel Madera, 23, of Freeport, before a grand jury indicted her on charges that include hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence that she pleaded not guilty to last week.

Authorities have alleged Madera drove Baldwin, her boyfriend, to the scene and left her vehicle with him before surrendering her license plates and selling the vehicle after the shooting.

Her attorney, Bruce Barket, on Friday called the case against her "ludicrous." He said Madera got out of her vehicle and Baldwin got behind the wheel "some distance away" from where authorities said the violence occurred.

In court Friday, Grier’s attorney, Justin Feinman, and Brant’s attorney, Jason Russo, reserved the right to make future bail applications for their clients.

Feinman said after court he had "no reason to doubt" his client's innocence. Russo said after court that Brant had been working a part-time construction job before his arrest, calling him "genuinely a good kid that seems to have gotten himself caught up with some others in this horrible situation." He added that "so far it appears if he had any role at all, it was a minor role."

Baldwin's attorney, Jeffrey Groder, said Friday he was still investigating the case and his client "looks forward to his day in court."

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