BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
In October 2014, Waka Flocka Flame was arrested at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for carrying a concealed weapon, among other charges.
On Thursday afternoon – after a four-day trial – the Atlanta rapper legally known as Juaquin James Malphurs was acquitted of all charges in a Clayton County courthouse.
Malphurs’ attorney, Drew Findling, said a jury found the rapper not guilty on charges of carrying a concealed weapon and carrying a firearm in a government facility after deliberating for fewer than 30 minutes.
On the day of his arrest, Malphurs told TSA officials at the airport that he was unaware he was traveling with a gun because he had accidentally picked up the backpack of his then-fiancée, now-wife Tammy Rivera, in his haste to get to the airport.
“As soon as he got stopped, he said that the gun was not his and that he had packed his wife’s backpack on his way to a performance in Houston; they were staying in a hotel before moving into a new house,” Findling said.
Findling said one of the best pieces of evidence to corroborate Malphurs’ story was a TMZ photo that showed the couple at an earlier date walking around the airport and sporting identical backpacks.
Malphurs, 30, did not testify at the trial, but Rivera, a licensed gun owner, did.
The case originally started with five counts, which would have carried a sentence of a year each. By the time the case was presented to the jury, it was knocked down to two counts and a 24-month sentence if convicted.
Malphurs is headed to Panama City, Fla., where he is scheduled to perform Thursday night.