NEW YORK – Rap star Ja Rule may soon be in the spotlight in a New York City courtroom.
A trial could start as soon as this week in a gun-possession case stemming from a July 2007 stop of his luxury sports car. He was scheduled for a court date Monday.
Police say they found a loaded semiautomatic gun in a rear door of his $250,000-plus Maybach after it was stopped for speeding following a Manhattan concert. The chauffeured car also had a suspended registration and no insurance, police said.
The platinum-selling rapper has pleaded not guilty to criminal weapon possession. His lawyer has said the traffic stop was unjustified and has questioned a type of DNA analysis used in the case.
Known for his gravelly voice and collaborations with artists including Ashanti and Jennifer Lopez, Ja Rule scored a 2002 nomination for the best rap album Grammy Award with "Pain is Love." Born Jeffrey Atkins, he also also has appeared in movies, including the 2001 film "The Fast and the Furious" and 2003's "Scary Movie 3."
Ja Rule was leaving the Beacon Theater when his car was stopped. Police said they smelled marijuana and found a .40-caliber semiautomatic gun in the rear driver's side door. He wasn't charged with drug possession, and a judge threw out the rapper's statement to police that he had "a little bit of weed" in his pocket.
If convicted on the gun charge, the 34-year-old could face up to four years in prison.
Separately, rap big Lil Wayne also was arrested on a gun-possession charge after the same concert, which he headlined. At the time, the two had recently joined forces on a single called "Uh Oh."
Lil Wayne, born Dwayne Carter Jr., pleaded guilty last year to attempted criminal possession of a weapon. He admitted he'd had a loaded, semiautomatic .40-caliber gun on his tour bus, which was also stopped after the show.
The 28-year-old spent eight months in the city's Rikers Island jail complex, releasing an album, "I Am Not a Human Being," while behind bars. He was freed last month.