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Aspiring rapper found not guilty of murder

A Nassau jury found an aspiring rapper from Roosevelt not guilty of murder Thursday after deliberating for two days in the case.

Eric Rucker, 29, said he told his lawyer the moment before the verdict was announced that he had faith in the jury.

"I started crying," he said in an interview after the acquittal. "I just kept saying, 'Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord.' "

Rucker was charged with killing Dimitri Forde, 18, of Jamaica, in August 2009. It took police about two years to arrest him.

Police said Forde was at the Garage Productions recording studio when he got into a dispute with Rucker. They said Rucker shot Forde once in the head and fled, investigators said.

Forde's identity remained unknown for two days until a published photograph of a tattoo on the his right wrist, "Death before dishonor," was recognized by family.

Rucker's lawyer, William Shanahan, of Mineola, said the key witness against his client, a woman who said Rucker had admitted committing the murder, was not believable on the stand.

"I'm glad the jury was able to see all the evidence, and saw that this case was based upon the testimony of one very unreliable witness," he said.

Rucker said he hopes now to spend time talking to young people about staying out of trouble.

"I want to reach the youth and let them know that life is not in the streets," he said. "Life is with God and with your family."

A spokesman for Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice declined comment on the acquittal.

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