The rapper’s initial case ended with a deadlocked jury and a mistrial
YNW Melly is headed back to court on first-degree murder charges, with the Broward County State Attorney’s Office saying they will retry the rapper for the Oct. 2018 killings of two men.
A rep for the Broward County State Attorney’s Office confirmed to Rolling Stone that they would seek a retrial after Pitchfork first reported the news. A rep for the office declined to comment further, saying, “We don’t comment on pending cases.” A lawyer for YNW Melly — real name Jamell Demons — did not immediately return a request for comment.
The decision to retry Demons isn’t surprising after his initial case was declared a mistrial on Saturday, July 22, after jurors failed to reach an unanimous verdict following two days of deliberations. Demons had pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder for the killings of fellow rappers Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas; he faced the death penalty if convicted.
The nearly 20-day trial wrapped last week with closing arguments taking place on Thursday, July 20. The deadlock was apparent almost immediately, with the jury telling the judge on Friday that they’d been unable to reach a decision. While the judge ordered them to keep deliberating, another day passed without a verdict, ultimately prompting the declaration of a mistrial.
Prosecutors have claimed that Demons conspired to kill Williams and Thomas with co-defendant Cortlen Henry (who is being tried separately). Authorities alleged that Demons shot the two men inside a Jeep, driven by Henry; afterwards, the car was allegedly driven to an area near the Everglades, where Demons and Henry allegedly shot at the Jeep from the outside to make it look like a drive-by shooting.
Demons’ defense team, however, has argued that the rapper had no motive to kill Williams and Thomas, who were described as Demons’ “best friends.” Demons’ defense team has also highlighted the fact that a murder weapon was never recovered.