Prosecutors in the YSL trial say they have 737 witnesses they’d like to potentially call to the stand once litigation begins in Atlanta later this month. The list includes 258 lay witnesses and 479 expert witnesses, according to 11 Alive, which notes that not all witnesses actually testify.
It took the attorneys more than 10 months to pick a jury — the longest jury selection in Georgia’s history — and with so many witnesses on only one side of the gavel, the jury better hope for comfortable seats.
“That is certainly not a normal amount of witnesses,” attorney Bradford Cohen, whose client list includes Kodak Black and Pooh Shiesty, tells Rolling Stone. “I have tried far more serious cases with 1/20th of the amount of those witnesses. At a trial, if that was the true amount of witnesses, this case would take two years to try.”
Cohen also believes the number of witnesses is meant to complicate the proceedings. “If you need 737 witnesses to prove your case you shouldn’t be bringing it,” he says. “Courts have become complacent with prosecutorial misconduct and the issues that plague discovery. This is one example of the state purposefully listing witnesses they have no intent to call to keep the defense busy and not concentrating on the issues at hand.” He adds that he’s seen similar maneuvers in the case of YNW Melly, which was tried in Broward County, Florida. “[Prosecution] is now a win-at-any-cost–type situation and goes against what the founding fathers envisioned for our justice system.”
The trial, in which prosecutors will attempt to prove that Young Thug‘s YSL Records is a gang organization, will begin on Nov. 27. The rapper, whose real name is Jeffrey Williams, faces eight counts of a 65-count indictment leveled at YSL. The attorneys allege that YSL stands for “Young Slime Life,” a supposed subset of the Bloods gang of which Williams is the leader and that YSL is responsible for murders in and around Atlanta.
Williams’ lawyer, Brian Steel, denies the charges. He has said, “Mr. Williams committed no crime whatsoever, and we will fight to my last drop of blood to clear him.”
A complication for Steel will be in Judge Ural Glanville’s ruling last week, which stated that Young Thug’s lyrics could be used as evidence in the trial. “None of these lyrics are true threats, therefore it’s protected speech,” Steel argued, but ultimately lost.
Many defendants in the case have already accepted plea deals. Six defendants are still facing trial. Young Thug has been in jail since May 2022. The judge has denied his possible release on bond.