NYC Judge Reopens Rapper Lil Wayne's Gun Hearing

A judge said Thursday he will reopen a hearing on whether a handgun found on Grammy-winning rapper Lil Wayne's tour bus can be used as evidence at his illegal-weapon possession trial.

Justice Charles Solomon had ruled in February the 9 mm gun could be used as evidence. He reopened the hearing after Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said she had learned of a previously undisclosed police report detailing an officer's conversations with Lil Wayne from
the moment the officer saw him on his bus until his arrest.

Defense lawyer Stacy Richman, who asked for the renewed hearing with Illuzzi-Orbon's consent, said the newly found police report will shed more light on some witnesses' testimony.

The judge scheduled the hearing for May 20.

Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., was arrested in Manhattan on July 22, 2007, after a Beacon Theatre concert that also featured rapper Jeffrey "Ja Rule" Atkins.

He has pleaded not guilty to illegal possession of a gun and is free on $70,000 bail. The 26-year-old faces at least 3 1/2 years in prison if convicted.

Officer Diane Hornung testified in the earlier hearing that she got on the bus after the concert because she smelled marijuana and saw smoke wafting from the bus' open door.

In a bedroom at the rear of the bus, Hornung said, Lil Wayne was sitting on a bed in his underwear and trying to hide a bag. While he got dressed, she said, she looked inside the bag and found a loaded 9 mm semiautomatic handgun.

Richman, the defense lawyer, argued during the hearing that Hornung falsely claimed she smelled marijuana so she could illegally board the bus.

Richman got Hornung to admit that when she got on the bus she did not see anyone smoking marijuana. Lil Wayne was not charged with marijuana possession.

Last month, a judge in Atlanta dismissed felony drug charges against Lil Wayne, who had been arrested in August 2006 at a hotel there after police said they found a small amount of marijuana and other drugs.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson suppressed drug evidence after defense lawyer William Head argued that the search was illegal and said Lil Wayne was not staying in the room where he was arrested.

Lil Wayne's albums include "Tha Block is Hot," "Lights Out," "Tha Carter," "Tha Carter II" and "Tha Carter III." A single, "Got Money," was one of the nation's most downloaded tunes last year, music surveys showed.

The rapper, originally from New Orleans, now lives in Miami.

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