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The murder trial for up-and-coming rapper YNW Melly is set to begin on Monday after a jury of 12 was finalized this week.
Melly, whose legal name is Jamell Demons, faces two counts of murder for the 2018 shooting deaths of his group members Chris Thomas, 20, who was known as YNW Juvy, and Anthony Williams, 21, whose stage name was YNW Sakchaser.
A fourth member, Cortlen Henry known as YNW Bortlen, also faces murder charges. Police said Bortlen was driving the night of the murders and claimed they were the victims of a drive-by shooting. Bortlen will be tried separately.
Last week, a judge ruled in favor of the state after they filed a motion that would allow a death sentence if a jury voted 8-4 in favor of the death penalty. The new law was created after the Parkland school shooter, Nikolas Cruz, avoided the death penalty due to a split jury.
The Law&Crime Network plans to stream YNW Melly’s murder trial live once opening statements begin.
Night of deadly shooting
The murders unfolded on Oct. 26, 2018 after Melly, Bortlen, Juvy and Sakchaser left a recording session in an SUV.
Bortlen drove to a hospital and claimed the group had been targeted in a drive-by shooting. Juvy and Sakchaser had been shot to death. Following the murders, Melly posted on Twitter “They Took My Brothers From Me Over Jealousy I know y’all watching over me.”
Months later in April 2019, Melly and Bortlen were charged with the premeditated murders of Juvy and Sakchaser. Both pleaded not guilty.
Bortlen’s trial has not yet been scheduled.
Melly’s trial has been delayed several times because of COVID and arguments over the death penalty and evidence. Melly was 19 at the time of the murders.
Jury selection in Melly’s case began in April. At the time, his mother appeared hopeful on social media.
“Melly coming home. Today I went to court expecting more delays but we started jury selection. I can’t explain how I feel my anxiety is everywhere but God got us,” Jamie King wrote on Instagram.
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