When Baton Rouge rapper Lit Yoshi is tried on attempted murder counts stemming from two shootings in the city last year, a jury can hear about his alleged involvement in a deadly May 2019 shooting in Miami that targeted rival rap artist NBA YoungBoy, a judge ruled Thursday.

State District Judge Tarvald Smith also said prosecutors can tell jurors about Lit Yoshi's alleged involvement in a June 2019 drive-by shooting at the AM Mart on Highland Road, a video he posted on YouTube last March in which he called a witness to the Highland incident a "rat," and a shooting last April in Slidell in which that witness was a victim.

The rapper's attorney complained prosecutors were piling on.

East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Stuart Theriot had argued during a hearing Thursday that a common theme in all of the shootings is an ongoing feud between the NBA (Never Broke Again) and TBG (Top Boy Gorilla) record labels.

Lit Yoshi, whose real name is Mieyoshi Edwards, performs under the TBG label. NBA YoungBoy, whose given name is Kentrell Gaulden, founded the NBA group.

Law enforcement officials also have referred to the two groups as gangs.

Edwards' attorney, Ron Haley, said he will appeal the judge's ruling. He accused prosecutors of piling on against his client.

Edwards, 22, has not been arrested in either the Miami shooting or the Slidell shooting. One of the victims in the Slidell incident was also a victim and witness in the earlier Highland Road shooting.

Zac Woodring, a Baton Rouge police detective, testified Thursday that Edwards is a suspect in the open Slidell investigation. Woodring also said the Miami probe remains open. He also acknowledged that the NBA group has beefs with groups other than TBG.

"Rumors, theories, open investigations are not evidence," Haley had argued to Smith.

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Theriot, however, said the state is entitled to "complete our whole story" about the motive behind the shootings. He told the judge that a "simmering feud" between the NBA and TBG groups "escalated" with the September 2017 slaying of Garrett "Gee Money" Burton, a TBG performer, in Baton Rouge.

Gaulden associate Deandre Fields, of New Roads, was arrested in June 2019 in Burton's killing and indicted on a second-degree murder charge last month.

Fields himself was shot last April, and Edwards has been charged with attempted murder in that case.

The Mother's Day 2019 shooting in Miami outside the Trump International Hotel resulted in Gaulden's girlfriend being shot and a bystander killed. Recorded prison phone calls between an incarcerated TBG member and Edwards, which were played in court Thursday, place Edwards in Miami the day of the shooting and on the street where the hotel is located.

Edwards, who is charged with seven counts of attempted first-degree murder in shootings in Baton Rouge last year in April and July that injured three adults and two children, is free on $1.82 million bond. Authorities have said those shootings were related to the rap feud.

The April shooting occurred in the parking lot of the La Playa Apartment Complex on Hanks Drive, and the July shooting took place near the Mallard Crossing Apartment Complex on Greenwell Springs Road.

Attempted first-degree murder carries a prison term of 10 to 50 years.

Gaulden and 15 others were arrested in September on drug and gun counts while creating a music video in Baton Rouge. They have not been formally charged, but both state and federal prosecutors are looking into the incident.

Gaulden was given a suspended 10-year prison term in 2017 and put on probation after he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a firearm in a 2016 nonfatal shooting. His probation ended in December 2019.


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