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UPDATE: Bond denial angers Migos rapper
Criminal history, recent jail fight keep Offset behind bars
Kiari Cephus, 23, also known as "Offset" of the rap group Migos, loudly expresses his disappointment before being led out of the courtroom after being denied bond Friday on firearm and drug charges stemming from the group's show at Georgia Southern University on April 18. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

An angry “Offset,” one of three members of the rap group Migos arrested on guns and drug charges following a Georgia Southern University concert, yelled profanities as he was led out of a Bulloch County courtroom Friday, after he was denied bond.

Kiari Kendrell Cephus of Lawrenceville, who is known by the stage name “Offset,” was one of the three Migos members arrested after the April 18 Spring Bling concert at Georgia Southern’s Hanner Fieldhouse.

Two other Migos members, Kirshnick Khari Ball, known by the stage name "Takeoff," and Quavious Keyatz Marshall, known by the stage name "Quavo," both of Lawrenceville, were released previously on bonds of $10,000 each, according to jail records. They were each 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.

Cephus was charged with the same offenses, as well as possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. After a fight in the Bulloch County Jail May 2, charges were added - battery and causing a riot in a penal institution.

Fifteen others were arrested after the April 18 concert. All posted bond except seven, including Cephus, who were initially denied bond by the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office. All seven faced Bulloch County Superior Court Judge John R. Turner Friday during bond hearings for each.

Turner denied bond for two others Friday. Dimitri Lesley Roger of Marietta and Kevin Markees Purnell of Atlanta, both 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, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Assistant District Attorney Barclay Black, prosecutor for the case, argued for bond denial due to the suspects’ past criminal history of felony convictions. Cephus’ criminal history includes theft, probation violations, burglary, drug violations and criminal street gang activity, he said.

Roger and Purnell have similar backgrounds, including the street gang connections, he said. The group’s name. Migos, comes from the street gang called the Black Migos, he said.

Turner issued bonds for four others who were initially denied bond immediately after their arrest at GSU April 18.

Willie Evans Bland of Columbus, Gregory Smith of Lawrenceville and Shelton Nesbitt of Newnan all were released on $20,000 bond each. They all face charges of 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. Nesbitt also has a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Shannon Lashay Jackson of Atlanta was the only woman arrested in connection with the April 18 incident. Charged with marijuana possession and carrying a weapon in a school safety zone (felony), she was given a $10,000 bond.

Also, Turner banned the four granted bond from returning to Bulloch County and directed them not to contact others involved in the case.


Jail fight details


During his argument for bond denial, Black gave details of the May 2 jail fight in which Cephus was involved.

The victim, Bradley Collin Weathers of Statesboro, is being detained in the Bulloch County Jail on 16 counts of entering auto, according to jail records.

Black said Cephus was downstairs in general population at the jail, and became angry after he overheard a conversation between Weathers and another inmate. He went upstairs, where Weathers was lying down, and started kicking him in the head and face, Black said.

Bulloch County Sheriff’s reports stated Weathers suffered visible injuries, and that he was not charged in the fight. Black said he never “threw a lick” during the attack.


‘Unfairly targeted’

Cephus’ attorney, Drew Findling of Atlanta, argued that his client was unfairly targeted, and that Statesboro-Bulloch County Crime Suppression Team members failed to prove ownership of seven guns and an assortment of marijuana and “lean,” a Schedule II controlled substance consisting of cough syrup with codeine and Jolly Rancher candies.

The three Migos band members and 12 others included in their entourage were arrested after they left the stage following the 30-minute concert. After their arrival at GSU an hour and half late, police smelled a strong odor of marijuana and spoke with Smith, who was driving one of two vans that brought the band and entourage to Statesboro.

Smith denied permission for officers to search the vans, but Advanced Patrol Officer Jared Shababy, a CST member, advised Smith there was probable cause for a search. Smith was detained while police found baby bottles filled with the “lean,” marijuana and the guns.

GSU had contracted with Migos for a 45 minute concert, but the band voluntarily left the stage after only 30 minutes. That’s when police arrested them in a hall outside the stage, Shababy said during testimony Friday.

Georgia Southern University officials only paid the band half of a promised $33,000, due to the late arrival, shortened performance and the guns and drugs violations.


Why more security?

Findling and attorneys for other defendants challenged police to explain the reason for law enforcement security being at the concert, citing the band did not need security for the trip to Statesboro from Savannah, where they had a concert the night before.

Shababy testified law enforcement were aware of the Atlanta-based hip hop group’s reputation for violence at their concerts and were there to protect the public.

“The security was for the public at large, not just for the band,” Black said.

According to media reports, six people were stabbed and a woman was beaten and robbed during and after a concert March 7 in Albany, NY; a brawl followed when someone snatched a gold chain from Marshall's neck at a Nashville concert in September, and in March 2014, the band's van was riddled with bullets in a drive by shooting in Miami after someone pulled up and opened fire. Band members returned fire, reports stated.


Gang connections

During the bond hearing, Black said he found social media reports claiming Cephus was “the CEO” of a rap music-oriented gang based in Gwinnett County called the “Black Migos.”

Findling said he took offense at the reference to Cephus’ race, which he said occurred when Black spoke of the “Black Migos” gang.  Black shouted “Objection!” at Findling’s comment, and Turner told the court that any suspect’s race means “absolutely nothing to me.”

Findley argued that “Migos” is a variation of the Spanish word “amigos,” meaning “friends,” and said Cephus should be given bond because he has two children; a 4-year-old and a newborn, whom he supports.

Black countered with Cephus’ reputation for fleeing from police, his criminal background and the fact he has committed felony offenses while still on probation for other offenses, including the May 2 jail fight.

After hearing Turner’s decision on bond, Cephus was seen mouthing words to his attorney before shouting obscenities in protest of the decision as he was escorted by guards out of the courtroom.


Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.


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