NATIONAL NEWS

Jury deliberations begin in double murder trial of rapper YNW Melly in South Florida

Jul 20, 2023, 4:14 PM

Jamell Demons, better known as rapper YNW Melly, is shown at the defense table during closing argum...

Jamell Demons, better known as rapper YNW Melly, is shown at the defense table during closing arguments in his trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Thursday, July 20, 2023. Demons, 22, is accused of killing two fellow rappers and conspiring to make it look like a drive-by shooting in October 2018. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Jurors in a South Florida courtroom began deliberating Thursday afternoon in the double murder trial of rapper YNW Melly, and the 24-year-old artist could face a possible death sentence if convicted of the fatal shooting of two childhood friends.

Broward County prosecutors delivered their closing argument Thursday morning in the October 2018 shooting deaths. They reminded jurors that the fatal shots came from inside a Jeep where the victims had been shot, and by every account, from the seat where YNW Melly was sitting, the Sun Sentinel reported.

Melly, whose legal name is Jamell Demons, had his breakout in 2017 and went on to work with Kanye West on “Mixed Personalities,” which was released in January 2019, a month before Demons was arrested on murder charges.

Killed were Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr. Williams and Thomas were both part of the YNW collective, known respectively as YNW Sakchaser and YNW Juvy.

According to prosecutors, Demons, Williams and Thomas were riding in a Jeep driven by Cortland Henry, known as YNW Bortlen, after a recording session in Fort Lauderdale when Demons fatally shot Williams and Thomas. Henry is charged as an accomplice in the case and will be tried separately.

After killing Williams and Thomas — prosecutors said — Demons and Henry drove the bodies to an area near the Everglades, where they shot at the back and passenger sides of Henry’s Jeep from the outside to make it look like Williams and Thomas had been the victims of a drive-by shooting.

Defense lawyers, in presenting their closing argument Thursday afternoon, focused on the fact that the gun used in the shooting was never recovered. They also told jurors that YNW Melly had no apparent motive.

Prosecutors said the shooting was part of a gang action, while defense attorneys said that lacks credibility because Demons and the victims were close friends.

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Jury deliberations begin in double murder trial of rapper YNW Melly in South Florida