Baton Rouge rapper NBA Youngboy avoided being sent to prison for 10 years Friday, but a judge did order him to spend 90 days in jail and banned the rapper from giving any performances for the next 14 months.
State District Judge Bonnie Jackson, in deciding not to revoke his probation, also put the rapper, Kentrell Gaulden, under house arrest with electronic monitoring until his probation expires in August 2020.
Jackson, who had jailed Gaulden on May 17 while she decided whether to revoke his probation, told the 19-year-old he has to decide who he is.
“You have a choice to make. You can either be Kentrell or NBA. You can’t be both,” she said as Gaulden, shackled and wearing an orange-and-white striped Parish Prison jumpsuit, stood before her with his attorneys.
“I feel the same way. I can’t be both,” Gaulden replied.
Jackson had given Gaulden a suspended 10-year prison term in August 2017 and put him on probation for three years after he pleaded guilty earlier that year to aggravated assault with a firearm in a nonfatal 2016 drive-by shooting on Kentucky Street in Baton Rouge.
But after two arrests — one in early 2018 in a domestic violence-related incident in Georgia and the other earlier this year in that same state — and his involvement last month in a deadly shootout in Miami, East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors filed three motions asking the judge to revoke his probation and send him to prison. The charges from the latter arrest have been dismissed. Video of the 2018 incident in a Georgia hotel was shown in court Friday. It shows Gaulden shove a woman to the ground in a hallway, then repeatedly try to force her into a room.
After hearing testimony Friday from a Baton Rouge probation officer and a Baton Rouge police officer, and listening to arguments from a prosecutor and Gaulden’s attorney, Jackson found Gaulden in violation of a special condition of his probation that he not associate with two men: Ben Fields and Trulondrick “Boomer” Norman, both of whom the judge said were integral in the Kentucky Street shooting.
“I’m sorry for my actions and the company I kept,” Gaulden told the judge.
Gaulen's prohibited associations came to light last month in Miami when gunmen opened fire on Gaulden and several of his associates outside the Trump International Hotel. Gaulden’s girlfriend was shot in the shoulder. Legally armed members of his entourage returned fire, killing a bystander. Miami-Dade police said no members of Gaulden's party will be charged because they acted in self-defense. No arrests have been made in the shooting.
Gaulden was found to be in Miami on Mother’s Day weekend with both Fields and Norman. Baton Rouge police arrested Norman, 21, of Baker, earlier this month and accused him of firing shots alongside Gaulden in the Kentucky Street shooting.
Jackson told Gaulden during Friday’s hearing that “not everyone is good for you.”
“People are users, and you are an easy target. Not everybody who says they’re your friend is in reality your friend,” she said.
“I’m a hundred percent aware of that now,” he answered.
Gaulden’s lead attorney, James Manasseh, later applauded Jackson for not revoking his client’s probation.
“I think the judge was very thoughtful and listened to what the real facts of the situation are,” Manasseh said. “He’s not the vile thug some people want to make him out to be. He’s a sweet kid.”
In one of their previous probation revocation motions, prosecutors called Gaulden a "threat to society and the safety of others."
Prosecutors had cited Gaulden’s possession of a gun during the Miami shootout as another reason to revoke his probation. He isn’t allowed to possess a firearm while on probation or as a convicted felon.
Manasseh said in court that Gaulden used the gun in self-defense, adding that Gaulden was the target of an assassination attempt outside the Trump hotel. The attorney said Gaulden has had threats against his life.
“He did exactly what the law allows him to do,” Manasseh argued.
Jackson also expressed concern last month about a social media video she viewed during media coverage of the Miami shooting in which Gaulden made violent threats against another person. The judge had banned him from social media posting as part of his probation. She determined Friday, however, that it is possible a third party posted the video without Gaulden’s consent.