Most Viewed Stories
Lil Wayne back in Wellton for court appearance
Fans show up early to catch glimpse of rapper
WELLTON — Fans of Lil Wayne erupted in cheers Friday morning as the rap star climbed from the back seat of a black vehicle moments before he went into court, where he was later formally charged with four felony drug and weapon-related charges.
Anticipating a large crowd of spectators, security around the Wellton Justice Court building had been beefed up earlier in the morning. The front part of the building was taped off with crime scene tape and several Wellton police officers stood guard.
Lil Wayne arrived about a half hour early in a two-vehicle procession, along with Curtis Stewart, who was also arrested on Wednesday, and several other unidentified people.
The two vehicles originally parked on the side of the building when they got there, awaiting the 10 a.m. court hearing. When it was time for Lil Wayne's court hearing, the black vehicle he was riding in pulled up next to the building, just a few feet from the entrance.
About 25 to 30 mostly young fans cheered and yelled out encouragement to the rap star the moment they saw him. According to a Wellton police officer, some of the fans began showing up as early as 7:30 a.m. One fan had parked his car, with its doors open, in front of the sheriff's office and had Lil Wayne music playing on his stereo. Many flashed the rapper's "wheezy" hand sign.
Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., 25, of New Orleans, was arrested after his tour bus was stopped at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Border Patrol checkpoint near Dateland, 78 miles east of Yuma.
According to a spokesperson from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, a Border Patrol canine alerted agents to the presence of illegal drugs on the bus, prompting the search that turned up the drugs.
A search by patrol agents of his bus turned up nearly four ounces of marijuana, just over an ounce of cocaine, 41 grams of Ecstacy and miscellaneous drug paraphernalia.
Also found was a .40-caliber pistol registered to Carter, who has a concealed weapons permit in Florida.
Once inside, Carter was arraigned before Wellton Justice of the Peace Cora Romine, who informed him that a felony complaint had been filed against him by the Yuma County Attorneys Office and advised him of his rights.
"Do you wave a formal reading of the complaint?" Romine asked of Carter's attorney James Tilson, who responded by answering, "yes."
According to court records Carter was charged with possession of narcotic drug for sale, possession of dangerous drugs, misconduct involving weapons and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Stewart was charged with possession of marijuana. Harold Johnson, the third person arrested in the incident, did not make his court appearance due to missing his flight out of Louisiana on Thursday, where he was making another court hearing.
Tilson, who also represented Johnson told the court that Johnson was on a plane and in route to Yuma and would be able to appear later in day. The court ordered he appear before 5 p.m.
Romine also, as part of his conditions of release, asked Carter if there was any reason that he would need to leave the state.
Tilson informed the court that his client was an entertainer in the music business and in the midst of a concert tour, which required, "extensive traveling." The judge gave Carter permission to travel outside the state and to remain out of custody on the $10,185 bond he posted. She also set both Carter and Stewart's next court date — preliminary hearings for Feb. 12 at 1:30 p.m. at Wellton Justice Court.
Carter left the court moments after his hearing, climbing back inside the black vehicle, which had again parked a few feet from the door.
James Gilbert can be reached at
email@example.com or 539-6854.