A trial date was scheduled Thursday for the rapper Lil Wayne, who is facing drug and weapons charges in Yuma County.
Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Carter, 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 plead not guilty to all the charges.
Carter, whose presence was waved at a previous hearing and did not attend Thursday's hearing, was arrested in January 2008 at a border checkpoint 78 miles east of Yuma after authorities said they found cocaine, Ecstasy and a handgun on his tour bus.
Prior to setting the trial date, Yuma County Superior Court Judge Mark Wayne Reeces informed the attorneys that he had several trials already on his calendar and asked how long they thought the rapper's would last.
"I'm going to guesstimate that two weeks should be sufficient," said Deane Sandry, who is prosecuting the case for the Yuma County Attorney's Office.
Yuma attorney James Tilson, who is co-representing Carter along with Tucson attorney Natman Schaye, responded by saying he thought, due to his client's notoriety and the media coverage of the case, the trial could take as long as three weeks.
"At this point it will probably be appropriate to set a trial date," Reeves said.
Schaye told the court he still had some witness interviews to conduct, including two that that were scheduled telephonically for Friday, one of whom was the Border Patrol agent handling the dog that alerted officials to the drugs.
The agents are being interviewed by phone because they have since transferred to the state of Washington.
"I expect there will motions from this," Schaye said, of the interviews. "Realistically, if we set a trial date it should be way off."
Reeves set Carter's trail date for 1:30 p.m. March 30, 2010. A final trial management conference will also be scheduled by written court order and take place about two weeks before the trial.
According to Reuters, Lil Wayne’s 2008-2009 North American concerts grossed more than any other rap concert this year. From Dec. 14, 2008 to Sept. 6, 2009, Lil Wayne grossed $42 million.
Lil Wayne has also sold over 3 million copies of his latest album "The Carter III," according to Reuters and Nielsen SoundScan. The rapper's next album is due out Nov. 24.
The rapper's tour bus was stopped Jan. 22, 2008, at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint near Dateland, 78 miles east of Yuma.
A search of the bus by Drug Enforcement Administration agents yielded nearly four ounces of marijuana, just over an ounce of cocaine, 41 grams of Ecstasy and miscellaneous drug paraphernalia. DEA agents then arrested Carter.
Officials also found a .40-caliber pistol registered to Carter, who has a concealed weapons permit in Florida.