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Deandre Fields

An associate of Baton Rouge rapper NBA YoungBoy pleaded not guilty Thursday in the 2017 slaying of rival local rap artist Gee Money.

Deandre Fields, who has been free on $250,000 bond since his 2019 arrest, told 19th Judicial District Commissioner Kina Kimble that he's been trying to hire a lawyer since his January indictment on second-degree murder.

So Kimble appointed the local public defender's office to represent Fields, 26. His next court date is Aug. 23.

Fields is accused of fatally shooting Gee Money, whose real name is Garrett Burton, outside Burton's Dallas Drive music studio in Baton Rouge on Sept. 10, 2017.

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Garrett Burton, a Baton Rouge rapper known as "Gee Money" or "Da Real Gee Money."

Burton, 22, performed with the TBG (Top Boy Gorilla) group. NBA YoungBoy, whose real name is Kentrell Gaulden, founded the NBA (Never Broke Again) group.

The two rap groups, described by East Baton Rouge Parish authorities as gangs, have been feuding for years.

Fields' arrest warrant provided insight into what started the beef between Burton and Gaulden, saying Burton released a song that contained "derogatory lyrics" about Gaulden's sister. Gaulden responded with a social media post and the bad blood escalated from there, the warrant says.

Kentrell Gaulden

Kentrell Gaulden

Burton said in an August 2017 interview with the blog SayCheeseTV that Gaulden had "got the big head" after some success and the two probably would never make music together — in part because of the drama involving Gaulden's sister.

Burton was killed the following month.

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Police interviewed Fields three days after Burton's death, and he recalled telling his mother to leave their home because "he feared retaliation." He said he left Baton Rouge with his mother and son and went to New Roads after Burton was killed.

Fields also told detectives he drove to Hammond "to get gas" on the night of Sept. 10, 2017, according to the warrant. Detectives later obtained Fields' phone records, which showed he was not in Hammond the night of Burton's death, but was actually in Baton Rouge.

When police asked Fields who among his friends would shoot people for the NBA group, he replied: "To be honest, me." He also referred to "problems in the streets."

Fields faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted as charged in Burton's death. State District Judge Beau Higginbotham is handling the case.

Gaulden's attorney, James Manasseh, said after Fields' indictment that as far as he knows, "there's never been any insinuation that Kentrell had any involvement in this situation."

Fields himself was shot in April 2020 in Baton Rouge, and local rapper Lit Yoshi, whose real name is Mieyoshi Edwards, is charged in state court with attempted murder in that shooting.

Edwards, who also faces attempted murder charges in several other local shootings, is a known TBG member, authorities have said. He is free on $1.82 million bond.

Early last month, a Baton Rouge federal judge said Gaulden should remain jailed until his trial on federal weapons charges. Chief U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick said Gaulden was "inclined toward reckless, illegal, dangerous behavior."

A federal grand jury indicted the rapper in March on charges that he possessed a firearm as a felon last September and that he also possessed a firearm not registered to him in a federal database.

Gaulden was given a suspended 10-year prison term in August 2017 and put on probation for three years after he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a firearm in a 2016 nonfatal shooting. A state judge decided in late 2019 that Gaulden had served enough time under court supervision and released him, which ended his probation.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.