Grammy Award-winning rapper Lil Wayne pleaded guilty to felony gun possession charges Thursday in a New York City courtroom. He is expected to receive a one-year jail sentence, MTV reports.
The charges stem from a 2007 arrest in Manhattan, when Wayne’s tour bus was stopped by police for wafting marijuana smoke following his concert at the Beacon Theatre. A search discovered a .40 caliber semi-automatic loaded gun.
Wayne, born Dwayne Carter, had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges, which carried at least 3 1/2 years in jail upon conviction. The trial was set to begin Jan. 20. Thursday’s hearing was centered on a controversial DNA profiling technique, which prosecutors said tied the loaded weapon to the artist. The defense maintained that the gun wasn’t Wayne’s, and that the testing technique was too problematic to prove otherwise, the AP reports.
A solemn Wayne, 27, arrived to for the hearing dressed casually in black jeans, a gray coat, white T-shirt, and blue Converse Chucks, and accompanied by Bryan “Baby” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams, the CEOs of his label, Cash Money Records.
Wayne will be sentenced in February 2010. With good behavior, he is expected to serve eight to 10 months.
But the gun charge isn’t the only trouble for Wayne: the multi-platinum rapper is also scheduled to go to trial in Arizona on felony drug possession and weapons charges, stemming from a January 2008 arrest at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint.
Wayne is currently No. 1 on the pop charts with his cameo on Jay Sean’s track “Down.” The position is familiar to the rapper: on the success of 2008’s Tha Carter III, Wayne shot from underground prodigy to chart-topping pop star. The album has sold over three million copies — thanks to hits like “A Milli,” “Mr. Carter,” and “Lollipop” — and was well received by the press, including SPIN’s Charles Aaron, who wrote of Wayne: Never has such a gifted MC been more motivated and distracted, piercing and random, clear-eyed and stoned into total bewildering oblivion. Who can’t relate?”
The massive success led to this past summer’s nationwide “America’s Most Wanted Tour,” featuring hot up-and-comer Drake, Jeezy, Soulja Boy, and more.
Wayne has long been prepping his next album, the rock-tinged Rebirth, which is finally expected to drop December 15.