Lil Wayne Alive and Present at Yuma Court Hearing Today

By Ray Stern

Reports of Lil Wayne's death were exaggerated, and the proof was in Yuma County Superior Court today.

A Yuma deputy prosecutor and Lil Wayne's co-counsel confirmed to New Times today that the rap star was present for a court hearing in his drug possession case, despite Internet rumors that he had died.

Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., was busted in January at a Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 8 near Yuma. As New Times reported in a March feature article, the checkpoint has become the bane of marijuana users due to a partnership between federal and local authorities.

Lil Wayne stands accused of carrying more than a lil' pot, though: One of the drug dogs working the checkpoint on January 22 found a quarter-pound of pot, an ounce of cocaine and 41 grams of Ecstasy in the recreational vehicle Lil Wayne and his entourage had driven through the checkpoint.

Roger Nelson, chief criminal deputy county attorney, says the January case is ongoing, and that Lil Wayne made his hearing today.

James Tilson, a Yuma lawyer hired by Lil Wayne to help with the case, says the court should have heard arguments on a couple of pending motions in the case today. But the judge ended up moving the hearing to November 21, meaning Lil Wayne made the trip to Yuma for a whole lot of nothing.

A previous court order requires Lil Wayne to be present at all court hearings unless he gets advance approval to miss a hearing, Tilson says. Lil Wayne isn't required to attend the November 21 hearing.

Lil Wayne's lawyers plan to argue that the case should be thrown out and sent back to a grand jury for a different charging decision, and also that the government should release training records for the drug dog that nailed Lil Wayne's vehicle.

"We'll see if we can get some of the charges changed, at least," Tilson says.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern