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Freeport man convicted in death of hip-hop artist

A Freeport man has been convicted of murder in the shooting death of a hip-hop artist outside a Hempstead nightclub in May 2011, prosecutors said.

A Nassau County jury found Ramiek Smalls, 24, guilty Friday of second-degree murder, second-degree assault and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

He faces 25 years to life in prison when Nassau County Court Judge Norman St. George sentences him on Jan. 11.

Smalls' defense lawyer, Dennis Lemke of Mineola, could not immediately be reached for comment.

"While our neighborhoods are safer with this murderer in prison, there are no winners here, only families torn apart and communities forced to live in fear," Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a news release Monday.

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 hip-hop artist and rival gang member Lawrence Hartman, 28, of Freeport, in a yearlong feud.

A fight broke out in the bar's parking lot shortly before Hartman was set 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.

Paul pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter.

Both men are awaiting sentencing.

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