Bulloch County Superior Court Judge John R. Turner plans to review a video of a May 2 altercation in the Bulloch County Jail before he makes a ruling on the third bond request by Migos rap group member Kiari Cephus, charged with riot in a penal institution.
Cephus, 23, of Brook Forest Drive in Lawrenceville, originally was jailed on drug and gun charges stemming from an April 18 concert at Georgia Southern University’s Hanner Fieldhouse.
He was charged with riot in a penal institution and battery after reportedly attacking Bradley Weathers, another inmate, in the Bulloch County Jail on May 2. However, two witnesses who were incarcerated at the time of the incident testified Friday that the brief assault was no riot.
Local attorney Lovett Bennett Jr., representing Cephus, asked the court to reconsider bond due to “new evidence,” including photos of a camera that recorded the incident as well as witness testimony.
Wilson Smith, currently an inmate at the Bulloch County Jail, said he was in the same cell as Weathers and two others, who were discussing discipline in the home, when Weathers called out loudly, “Come beat my ass.”
Smith said Cephus, who was in the day room below the cell in which the four inmates were talking, came into the cell and engaged in a brief scuffle with Weathers, then left.
“It wasn’t no riot,” Smith said.
The altercation lasted maybe five seconds, and there was no blood drawn, nor was anyone else involved, he said.
Another cellmate brought Cephus back to the cell following the scuffle, where Cephus apologized to Weathers, Smith said. All seemed to be peaceful until yet another inmate interfered.
“They call him ‘Bear,’ but I don’t know why. He doesn’t look like no bear,” Smith said.
The man known as Bear began urging Weathers to take advantage of Cephus’ notoriety and money, encouraging him to get in touch with Cephus’ mother and file charges, Smith said.
That is when Weathers began complaining of head pain. The complaints were similar to comments Weathers made a few weeks before the incident, when Weathers claimed he had previously sustained a skull fracture, Smith said.
When asked if anyone, including jail staff, tried to break up the fight, Smith said, “There wasn’t anything to break up.”
Another witness, former inmate Spencer Flythe, also testified Friday and supported Smith’s testimony. He said Weathers only had a “red mark” after the incident, and when Cephus apologized, he “tried to touch” the mark and stepped away.
Everything was fine until Bear stirred things up, Flythe said, adding that the tussle was not a riot and that no one else was involved.
Bennett argued that the charge of riot in a penal institution was not appropriate, as there was no riot between multiple inmates, and asked for bond because Cephus was from a “good family” and posed no threat to anyone.
Ogeechee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Barclay Black countered, saying Cephus could intimidate witnesses or commit further offenses if released on bond.
The rap group Migos, of which Cephus is a member, along with Kirshnick Khari Ball, 20, of Saddle Shoals Drive in Lawrenceville, known by the stage name "Takeoff," and Quavious Keyatz Marshall, 24, of Rye House Court in Lawrenceville, known by the stage name "Quavo," is known for its violent song lyrics and violence at their concerts.
All three Migos members, as well as several members of their entourage, were arrested April 18 after law enforcement officers, who smelled the odor of burning marijuana coming from one of the Migos’ vans, found drugs and guns.
Marshall and Ball were released on bonds of $10,000 each. They both were charged with marijuana possession, possession of a schedule II controlled substance, carrying a weapon in a school safety zone (felony) and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Cephus was charged with marijuana possession, possession of a schedule II controlled substance, carrying a weapon in a school safety zone (felony), possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Due to previous charges and convictions, he was denied bond. The additional charges of battery and riot in a penal institution were added after the May 2 incident.
Cephus’ attorneys asked for bond on two previous occasions: once in May and again in June. Turner denied the requests both times.
Friday, Turner did not specify a date on which he will decide on the latest bond request.
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.