Calling his confinement without bail "cruel and unusual," a Baltimore judge ordered that an up-and-coming rapper be allowed to post bond in a drug case tied to his music videos.
Kevron Evans, better known as Young Moose, has been held on drug charges since August, days before he was to perform at the Baltimore Arena. Though he posted $250,000 bond, police quickly notified his probation agent of the charges, triggering a violation of probation that required him to be held.
The case has been controversial because police cited imagery from Evans' music videos in charging documents, noting that he and others can be seen flashing firearms — even though no guns were found in a subsequent search of his home. In cases across the country, authorities have sought to use lyrics in court proceedings, with some courts pushing back.
Evans' attorney argued that police were on a witch hunt against the rapper, while prosecutors called him a "threat to public safety."
Circuit Judge John Addison Howard, noting what he called "interesting aspects" of the case, said it would be "cruel and unusual" to continue to have Evans held without the prospect of bail and set his bail amount at $50,000.
Howard did not rule on the violation of probation because the drug charges are pending. Evans' manager Teron Matthews, who attended the court hearing wearing a Young Moose shirt under a sport coat, said Evans' release will allow him to get back to making music and pursuing his career.
Evans was on probation stemming from previous drug convictions from 2012 and 2013. His career has been on the rise since, with his music videos garnering hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube. Perhaps his most popular song, "Dumb Dumb," has more than 100,000 views since it was posted in late September.
He has been signed to a local label and was scheduled to perform at what is now the Royal Farms Arena with New Orleans rapper Lil Boosie, as well as at another show organized by the local chapter of the NAACP.
In an interview posted online, Evans said his songs are about escaping poverty — or getting "Out the Mud," the name of his company — and relaying stories from his life.
"I want them to get my point of view. … I'm telling my life story," he said.
Tony Austin, a former Def Jam executive who signed Evans to his local label, told The Baltimore Sun: "When you see things going on, and God gave you a gift to put it in storytelling, what's the problem with that?"
The videos were posted months before the police raid, attorney Richard C.B. Woods noted.
Police, meanwhile, say Evans continues to be a drug dealer. Police wrote in charging documents that a confidential informant working with police purchased drugs from Evans and his father, who also is charged. A raid on the home July 25 — Evans was not home at the time — turned up 160 gel caps of heroin, cutting agents, and packaging material, police said. Police did not charge Evans until mid-August, however — right before the concert.
"Mr. Evans has been on probation for two separate offenses, and now we have … criminal charges that the grand jury found as sufficient probable cause for an indictment," a prosecutor told Howard.
Woods, said the detective in the case had a vendetta against Evans and had promised to lock him up and prevent him from performing at the arena show.
Woods also said it was unusual that police had directly notified Evans' probation agent of the new charges, as well as shown the agent some of the Young Moose music videos.
Evans is tentatively scheduled for trial on the drug charges next month.