What did YNW Melly do? Rapper’s death penalty dropped in double murder trial

Death penalty is off the table for YNW Melly (Image via Say Cheese/Twitter)
Death penalty is off the table for YNW Melly (Image via Say Cheese/Twitter)

YNW Melly will no longer face the death penalty in his upcoming double-murder trial, reports state.

Another preliminary hearing for YNW Melly's upcoming homicide trial in Broward County, Florida, was held on Wednesday, July 6. The death sentence was removed from the list of punishments that Jamell "Melly" Demons could get if he is found guilty of killing his two friends back in 2018.

The judge made this decision after hearing arguments from both sides over the course of many months. Jamie King, YNW Melly's mother, wrote about the decision on Instagram:

"Death penalty has officially been removed from @ynwmelly case. Thank you Jesus #FreeMelly2022. I’m literally crying real tears you coming home son @ynwmelly."

YNW Melly charged with two counts of first-degree murder

Back in 2019, the Florida rapper was arrested based on two charges of first-degree murder. He stands accused of shooting and killing his longtime friends YNW Sakchaser (Anthony Williams, 21) and YNW Juvy (Chris Thomas, 20).

Police said that another rapper named YNW Bortlen was his accomplice in the murders. Bortlen drove both the injured men to Miramar Memorial Hospital and reported that they had been shot in a drive-by. Police suspect that YNW Melly shot Sakchaser and Juvy from inside the car and then conspired with Bortlen to cover it up.

Before Melly and Bortlen were detained that year, police conducted a four-month investigation into the murders. YNW Melly was finally arrested for committing two first-degree murders.

Melly avoided the death penalty on grounds of a technicality

Since the beginning of the case, the state of Florida sought the death penalty for Melly. Nevertheless, the rapper's attorneys were able to have the sentence reduced on the basis of a technicality. According to court records, Melly's attorneys submitted a motion on April 27, 2022, to prevent the state from pursuing the death penalty.

It makes reference to a specific Florida criminal procedure rule that claims:

"If the prosecutor intends to seek the death penalty, the prosecutor must give notice to the Defendant of that intent to seek the death penalty. This notice must be filed with the Court within 45 days of the arraignment."

The document goes on to state that while YNW Melly was arraigned on the superseding indictment "on or about March 2, 2022," the state "has never filed a Notice of Intent to Seek the Death the Penalty listing the aggravating factors it intends to prove as it relates to this new or superseding indictment."

The filing further reads as follows:

"The state must additionally now prove that the defendant committed the charged offenses for the purpose of benefiting, promoting, or furthering the interests of a criminal gang, which was never alleged in the original indictment. Since the 45 day Notice of Intent to Seek Death has expired, the state should therefore be precluded from seeking a penalty of death in this cause."

The rapper was served with a wrongful death lawsuit, filed by the estates of Thomas and Williams, the year after his incarceration. In the spring of 2020, YNW Bortlen, Melly's associate, was given permission to be released on bond.

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Edited by Mohini Banerjee
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