Jury finds NBA YoungBoy not guilty of ‘knowingly’ possessing firearm during Calif. arrest

FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2017, file photo, NBA YoungBoy performs at the Lil' WeezyAna Fest at...
FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2017, file photo, NBA YoungBoy performs at the Lil' WeezyAna Fest at Champions Square in New Orleans. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP, File)(Amy Harris | Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 12:55 PM CDT
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LOS ANGELES (WVUE) - After two hours of deliberation, a federal jury in Los Angeles found NBA YoungBoy, real name Kentrell Gaulden, not guilty of felony gun possession charges, according to Nancy Dillon of Rolling Stone magazine.

“I feel great,” Gaulden told Dillon after the verdict was announced.

Fans were outside the courthouse Friday singing one of YoungBoy’s songs after hearing the news.

When Gaulden, a convicted felon, was pulled over and subsequently arrested in Los Angeles after a brief foot chase on March 22, 2021, agents found an FN FNX-45 pistol underneath the passenger seat of his Maybach. Gaulden’s defense claims he was not the only person using or being transported in the high-end vehicle and the gun was hidden under the seat by someone else.

On the first day of trial, U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner ruled to exclude the use of YougBoy’s lyrics as evidence, which prosecutors hoped would convince jurors that the rapper knew of and knowingly possessed the .45 caliber pistol that was found at the time of his “blindsided” arrest.

During testimony, a federal agent said the firearm was found after at least two other agents searched the vehicle prior to him, according to independent lawyer Moe Gangat, who is not tied to the case. The defense argued if the gun was not discovered until a third search, it could not have been in plain sight and YoungBoy did not know the gun was in the vehicle.

Gaulden’s defense team also highlighted several other items in the vehicle which did not belong to their client, including a hotel key card, parking receipt, restaurant receipts, and an airplane ticket receipt with the name Deondre Smart on it.

“In the indictment, they use the word ‘knowingly.’ Knowingly means he has to be aware, and it is their burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was aware that that particular gun was in that particular car at that particular time. Not any gun, but that particular gun, that he knew it was in the car,” Manasseh said in his opening statement Tuesday, according to Rolling Stone reporter Nancy Dillon.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Elbogen urged jurors to ignore Gaulden’s status as one of the most popular rappers in the world and evaluate the case based on the evidence.

Gaulden’s defense team pointed to a lack of fingerprint evidence on the gun to indicate that the rapper ever handled the pistol.

“In fact, what [prosecutors are] going to show is that there are five different DNA profiles on that gun. So many, that they can’t really identify and say whose might have been on it,” Manasseh continued.

On Wednesday, an expert FBI Forensic Examiner testified that she found “no suitable latents,” or fingerprints, on the FNX-45.

He has been serving house arrest in Utah, under the surveillance of a security firm staffed by military veterans.

Next, the rapper will face a similar trial in Louisiana, stemming from a 2020 arrest in Baton Rouge.

In September 2020, Gaulden and 16 others were arrested on drug and firearm charges while filming a music video.

Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that a cache of personal videos seized at the time of his arrest while making a music video nearly two years ago will remain off limits due to an improper search warrant.

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