Fayette County News

Fayette County


Rick Ross, bodyguard returning to court for Fri. hearing

William Leonard Roberts II, better known as rapper Rick Ross, released his new album “Rather You Than Me” on Friday. In one of the songs, “Dead Presidents,” Ross repeats the line “Let’s go to trial, we guilty ’til proven innocent.”

Exactly one week after the release of the album, Ross will follow up on his lyrical promise. Ross, 41, and his bodyguard Nadrian Lateef James are expected to be defendants in a case Friday morning at Fayette County Superior Court that dates back nearly two years, one in which they’ve each plead not guilty to.

On June 24, 2015, Ross and James were arrested at Ross’s 235-acre Fayetteville estate and accused of attacking two groundskeepers, Jonathan Zamudio and Leonardo Ceceras, on June 7, 2015. The groundskeepers had reportedly been staying overnight at a guest house at the estate previously owned by Evander Holyfield.

Ross and James were charged with two counts of kidnapping, seven counts of aggravated assault, and three counts of possession of a firearm during commission of a felony and booked into the Fayette County Jail.

Ross was released from jail on July 6, 2015, on a split bond amounting to $2 million, but was placed on house arrest. On Aug. 13, 2015, Judge Tommy Hankinson presided over a statutory bond hearing, in which a $250,000 bond was set for James, and he was also put on house arrest.

On Nov. 12, 2015, the home confinement bail condition was removed, but the defendants were still prohibited from traveling to the hometown of the victims. Both Ross and James were also required to provide his travel itinerary anytime they traveled outside the state of Georgia.

Ross took advantage of this, going on multiple international trips, including traveling to France on May 15, 2016, and the Republic of Congo on July 2, 2016.
On March 31, 2016, Ross and James entered into a plea of not guilty, and a pretrial motions hearing was scheduled for July 13, 2016. However, on July 8, 2016, Griffin Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Michele McCutcheon motioned for a continuance since one of the witnesses — Deputy Sheriff Stephen Fluegeman, the responding officer to the incident — was undergoing a medical procedure and would not be able to make the pre-trial hearing the following week.

On July 11, the attorney for the defendant, Sean Joyner wrote that “James will prove by a preponderance of the evidence at the pretrial immunity hearing that he acted in self-defense.” The defendants have maintained a not guilty plea since then.

A case for a hearing on “all outstanding motions, demands, demurrers, pleas and other matters requiring judicial action prior to the trial of this matter,” according to court documents, is scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m. at Fayette County Superior Court with Judge W. Fletcher Sams presiding. If needed, the hearing will continue at the following dates and times: May 1 at 9 a.m.; May 4 at 1:30 p.m.; May 5 at 1:30 p.m.; July 6 at 9 a.m.; and July 7 at 9 a.m., “as necessary until all matters are heard and decided.”

By Justin Fedich

Justin Fedich is a reporter for the Fayette County News. He has been a reporter for various papers around the Southeast, including the Athens Banner-Herald and the Selma Times-Journal. Justin is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in digital and broadcast journalism and a sports media certificate.