Even with his guilty plea to gun charges in New York on Thursday — which brought an expected sentence of one year in prison — [artist id="510062"]Lil Wayne[/artist]‘s legal troubles are not quite over.
The rapper (born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.), 27, still faces a number of drug and gun charges in Arizona, where he was arrested in January 2008 by DEA agents. Earlier this month, a trial date was set for that case, according to the Yuma Sun newspaper, which reported that attorneys agreed on March 30 as the start date.
The Arizona charges stem from a January 2008 arrest when Wayne’s tour bus was stopped by border patrol officers on Interstate 8 — which has a number of checkpoints due to its use by drug traffickers and illegal aliens. During a search of the bus, occupied by seven other passengers and a driver, the border patrol and police canines found drugs, over $22,000 in cash and three firearms. One of the guns, a .40-caliber pistol, was registered to Wayne in Florida, where he has a concealed carry permit, and the other two weapons were legally registered to members of Wayne’s camp.
The authorities also discovered nearly 4 ounces of marijuana, more than an ounce of cocaine, 41 grams of ecstasy and various drug paraphernalia. The DEA was called in to investigate and subsequently arrested Wayne and two other men. Several days later, Wayne was charged with one count each of felony possession of a narcotic drug for sale, possession of dangerous drugs, misconduct involving weapons and possession of drug paraphernalia; he has plead not guilty to all the charges.
Wayne’s Arizona-based attorney has not returned repeated calls for comment, and a spokesperson for the Yuma County District Attorney’s office declined to discuss the case. The Sun reported that before setting the March trial date, Yuma County Superior Court Judge Mark Wayne Reeves asked the attorneys how long they thought the trial would last.
While the prosecuting attorney predicted two weeks, Wayne’s counsel, James Tilson, said that due to Wayne’s notoriety and the expected intense media coverage of the case, it could take as long as three weeks. At the most recent court hearing on October 1, Tilson’s co-counsel, Natman Schaye, said the defense still had some witness interviews to conduct, including a Border Patrol agent who was handling the dog that alerted officials to the presence of the drugs.
Wayne’s lawyers have reportedly claimed that the dogs used in the bust were not properly trained, making the drugs seized in the raid inadmissible as evidence. The rapper is scheduled to be formally sentenced in the New York case in February and begin his expected eight-month prison bid a short time after that.