PHILADELPHIA – Baby-faced rapper Cassidy was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault Tuesday in what prosecutors called the planned ambush of a man who had argued with the musician's friends.
The 23-year-old Cassidy (real name: Barry Reese) was grossly negligent for supplying the guns that killed Desmond Hawkins and wounded two of his companions, Common Pleas Judge Jane Cutler Greenspan said at the end of a two-day non-jury trial.
Greenspan sentenced Cassidy to 11 1/2 to 23 months in prison. He has been in custody since his arrest in June, meaning he could be out of jail within a few months.
"You could be a leader in the community," Greenspan said. "All those guns — that's why Desmond is gone now, because of all those guns."
Police said that four different guns, including an assault rifle, were involved in the April 15 ambush in an alley behind Cassidy's house. Cassidy and his associates had stashed the guns around the alley in expectation of a shootout, prosecutors said.
Investigators also found ammunition for an AK-47 and other weapons inside the singer's rowhouse, which he shared with his girlfriend and 2-year-old son.
Witnesses testified that Hawkins, 22, had gone to Cassidy's home to act as a peacemaker after Hawkins and his friends got in an argument with Cassidy and his friends.
"It's a tragic situation for me too," Cassidy told the judge. "I didn't set up for this to happen. Desmond Hawkins was my friend ... one of my closest friends."
Cassidy's debut CD, "Split Personality," peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard album chart and featured the top 10 single "Hotel" featuring R. Kelly. Full Surface/J Records released the follow-up album "I'm a Hustla" on June 28.
His managers, who attended the trial, want him back to work soon on a third album.
"He's a natural performer. Very charismatic. We think he could be multiplatinum," Emio Zizza of J Records said.
Cassidy was convicted of one count of involuntary manslaughter, a misdemeanor; two counts of aggravated assault, both felonies; and possession of an instrument of crime.
Hawkins' companions, Bobby Hoyle and Daniel Irvin, were wounded in the shootout.
Police have arrest warrants for two others in Cassidy's camp, but have not found them, defense lawyer Fortunato Perri Jr. said.
Both Perri and the prosecutor said they were satisfied with the verdict. Prosecutors had sought a first-degree murder conviction, but were hampered by witnesses who recanted or recast their initial police statements.