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Warrant issued for Lil Wayne in Arizona case

Published:Thursday | March 18, 2010 | 12:00 AM

YUMA, Arizona (AP):

An Arizona judge issued a bench warrant Tuesday for Grammy Award-winning rapper Lil Wayne after he failed to appear for a hearing on drug and weapons charges because he is serving jail time in New York.

A Yuma County Superior Court judge issued the warrant after the entertainer, whose real name is Dwayne Carter, failed to appear in court for a final trial management conference.

But Lil Wayne's attorney, James Tilson, said his client couldn't appear because he is already serving a one-year jail sentence for having a loaded gun on his tour bus. The rapper began serving that sentence March 8 at the Rikers Island jail complex.

Lil Wayne was arrested in January 2008 at a border checkpoint 78 miles (125 kilometres) east of Yuma after authorities said they found cocaine, Ecstasy and a handgun on his tour bus.

Charged with possession

The 27-year-old rap star has been charged with one count each of possession of a narcotic drug for sale, possession of dangerous drugs, misconduct involving weapons and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Tilson said he has filed motions to have Lil Wayne's March 30 trial date vacated, and asked the court that his client be allowed to appear in Yuma when he finishes his New York jail sentence. He also has asked that his bond remain the same.

"It does not appear that a trial will be occurring anytime within the next eight to 12 months," Tilson said.

But Yuma County prosecutor Deann Sandry said it was the state's position that Lil Wayne is now a convicted felon and that a bench warrant should be issued and his bond be increased to US$150,000.

Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III was the best-selling album of 2008 and won a Grammy for best rap album. His latest album, Rebirth, was released last month.