Three men involved in XXXtentacion’s shooting in 2018 were found guilty of first-degree murder on Monday. The verdict against Michael Boatwright, Trayvon Newsome, and Dedrick Williams came after more than a week of deliberations.
Trigger Warning: The following article contains mentions of shootings and content that might appear disturbing to some readers. Discretion is advised.
According to The New York Times, prosecutors said 28-year-old Michael Boatwright and 24-year-old Trayvon Newsome were the gunmen involved in the shooting that took the rapper’s life. They also mentioned that Boatwright fired the fatal shot which ultimately killed XXXtentacion in June 2018.
Officials added that 26-year-old Dedrick Williams was the getaway driver and mastermind behind the robbery that led to the fatal shooting incident. All three men will reportedly face mandatory life sentences as prosecutors did not seek the death penalty for the suspects.
A fourth suspect, Robert Allen, who was allegedly part of the fatal robbery, has already pled guilty to a second-degree murder charge last year and testified against his alleged co-conspirators.
A closer look into the conviction of XXXtentacion’s murder suspects
Rapper XXXtentacion, aka Jahseh Onfroy, was shot to death during an apparent robbery attempt outside a motorcycle shop in Florida on June 20, 2018.
As per ABC News, the musician was leaving a Deerfield Beach motorsports dealership when two armed men approached and opened fire at him during a robbery attempt. They then fled the scene with Onfroy’s Louis Vuitton bag which contained $50000 cash.
Prosecutors released surveillance video of the incident during the 2018 hearing of the case. The footage showed the rapper’s BMW being blocked by an S.U.V. as he tried to leave a motorcycle shop in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
Police told ABC that the clip also showed two men jumping out of a black vehicle before running to XXXtentacion’s car window and demanding his chain. As the rapper tried to put up a fight during the confrontation, the suspects shot him and fled the scene with $50K in cash.
Authorities alleged that surveillance video from the musician’s BMW showed Michael Boatwright and Trayvon Newsome jumping out of the black SUV before robbing the rapper. Prosecutors claimed that Boatwright fired into the rapper's car and killed him.
XXXtentacion’s murder trial began in February, nearly five years after his death. In addition to the surveillance footage, the prosecution also relied on the statement of the fourth suspect, Robert Allen, who testified against his co-conspirators.
Prosecutors also reportedly presented cellphone and Bluetooth data that connected the suspects to the location of the shooting and the black SUV. Some videos used as evidence allegedly showed the defendants dancing and posing with cash hours after the rapper’s shooting death.
The New York Times reported that the jurors deliberated for more than 27 hours spanning eight days and reviewed over 1,000 text messages, photos, and videos seized from the defendants' cellphones prior to the verdict.
Defense lawyers for Michael Boatwright, Trayvon Newsome, and Dedrick Williams argued that DNA evidence failed to link the suspects to the shooting. However, prosecutors claimed that the four suspects had been planning the robbery that day and decided to carry out their plan after seeing XXXtentacion.
Lead prosecutor Pascale Achille claimed that the suspects saw the rapper when they stopped to buy masks and decided to rob him after recognizing the musician. The suspects allegedly confirmed the musician’s identity and pulled in front of his car in the parking lot.
Achille said that a struggle began as the rapper tried to resist the attack when Boatwright and Newsome snatched away a bag containing $50,000 cash from XXXtentacion. Shortly after, Boatwright allegedly shot the latter several times “without any provocation.”
The prosecutor delivered her closing arguments on March 8 and also presented a strong rebuttal. She said:
“Plans hatched in hell do not have angels for witnesses.”
Following the deliberations, the jury announced that Michael Boatwright, Trayvon Newsome, and Dedrick Williams were all found guilty of first-degree murder in connection to XXXtentacion’s death.