Busta Rhymes to face four separate trials

Rapper Busta Rhymes, accused of attacking two men, driving drunk, and driving with a suspended license, is facing four separate trials in a New York court.

Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Larry Stephen on Tuesday denied the prosecution's motion to consolidate the two assault charges against Rhymes. The hip-hop star is accused of beating a fan, and beating and kicking a former employee, last year.

"The two assault cases cannot be consolidated," said Rhymes' lawyer, Scott Leemon. "The decision today validated Busta's defenses to the assault cases. We detailed to the court that we have defense to these cases and the court agreed."

Assistant District Attorney Harrison Schweiloch had not moved to have the drunken driving and suspended license cases consolidated, so the judge also allowed them to remain separate.

In the meantime, Rhymes again turned down Schweiloch's offer of a year in jail to cover all the cases.

"It's the same offer" that the prosecutor made at the last court appearance, Leemon said, "and it's one which Busta adamantly rejects."

Rhymes, 35, whose real name is Trevor Smith, was arrested in May for the fourth time in less than a year, that time on a drunken driving charge. He allegedly admitted then that he had drunk a single shot of cognac about an hour earlier.

At that time, Rhymes had been scheduled to go to trial on the two assault charges.

In one case, Rhymes is accused of beating and kicking his former driver during a Dec. 26 pay dispute outside Rhymes' lower Manhattan office. In the other, he is charged with assaulting a fan after an Aug. 12 performance at the AmsterJam Music Festival on Randalls Island.

While those charges were pending, Rhymes was jailed briefly in February after police said they stopped him for running a red light and discovered he was driving with a suspended license.

Rhymes, known for eye-catching outfits and an antic performance style, has hits that include "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See," "Dangerous" and "Touch It." He also has appeared in movies, including "Shaft" and "Finding Forrester."

Leemon said the judge will hold hearings in the drunken driving and suspended license cases to determine whether any statements Rhymes made to police before and after he was arrested may be used at trial.

Stephen adjourned the cases until Sept. 5 when he is likely to set a hearing and trial schedule.