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A federal judge Tuesday set a hearing for Nov. 14 to consider whether Memphis rapper Ricky Hampton -- who was onstage when a shooting started last year inside the Power Ultra Lounge in Little Rock -- can withdraw his March 5 guilty plea to a gun charge stemming from an earlier shooting.

In scheduling the hearing to begin at 2 p.m. in his Little Rock courtroom, U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes noted, "In the event the motion to withdraw guilty plea and substitute counsel is denied, the parties should be prepared to immediately proceed to sentencing in this case."

Hampton, 25, who performed under the name Finese2Tymes, faces aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by certain persons in Pulaski County in connection with the July 1, 2017, shooting at the now-shuttered downtown Little Rock nightclub that left 28 people wounded. He was taken into custody the next day, when he and his bodyguard were arrested in Baton Rouge, in an incident that occurred early June 25 outside Club Envy in Forrest City after his performance there.

A motorist's back windshield was shattered by gunfire and her neck was grazed by a bullet as she sped away from a traffic jam while trying to leave the club, according to the U.S. attorney's office. The woman said she saw Hampton pointing an AK-47 style pistol at her while yelling at her to move out of the way just after she turned her car around and started to drive off. Hampton denied pulling the trigger but admitted possessing the gun, which cellphone cameras captured him holding.

He has since asked to withdraw his plea to a charge of being in possession of a firearm by certain persons and has asked to have substitute counsel appointed. In filing his request on Oct. 29, defense attorney Nicole Lybrand of the federal public defender's office didn't elaborate except to say that she doesn't believe that an irreconcilable conflict has arisen.

Hampton has two aggravated-robbery convictions from Tennessee, and as a felon wasn't allowed to possess a gun.

If he isn't allowed to withdraw his guilty plea, Hampton faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the gun charge. If the judge determines that an enhancement applies, he faces 15 years to life in prison.

Metro on 11/08/2018

Print Headline: Hearing Nov. 14 on rapper's plea

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