American rapper YNW Melly may face the death penalty after being charged with a double murder.
The 19-year-old, real name Jamell Demons, was charged with two counts of first degree murder following the shooting of two friends, Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr., in October 2018.
Thomas went by the stage name YNW Juvy, while Williams was known as YNW Sakchaser.
The rapper was accused of murdering the pair with Cortlen Henry, aka YNW Bortlen. The victims were shot in the head, torso and back, with the crime scene reportedly staged to look like a drive-by shooting, TMZ report.
Demons and Henry’s own car was reportedly shot in an attempt to corroborate their story. The victims were driven to hospital where they were pronounced dead.
USA Today report Miramar police spokeswoman Tania Rues said at the time:
They arrived with multiple gunshot wounds. They were dead already.
According to TMZ, new legal documents reveal the State of Florida intends to seek the death penalty against Melly. Capital punishment is still legal in Florida, and 29 other states.
In the documents, the State says it believes it can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Melly killed his friends for financial gain, and the murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel, and he committed homicide in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner. The State also believes Melly is a criminal gang member.
Melly turned himself in to officials in Broward County in February, though he seemed to maintain his innocence as he announced the decision on social media.
In an Instagram post, he wrote:
To all my fans and supporters no I did not get locked up in Washington , but I am turning myself in today I want you guys to know I love you and appreciate every single one of y’all, a couple months ago I lost my two brothers by violence and now the system want to find justice… unfortunately a lot of rumors and lies are being said but no worries god is with me and my brother [Henry] and we want y’all to remember it’s a ynw Family
View this post on Instagram
To all my fans and supporters no I did not get locked up in Washington , but I am turning myself in today I want you guys to know I love you and appreciate every single one of y’all, a couple months ago I lost my two brothers by violence and now the system want to find justice.. unfortunately a lot of rumors and lies are being said but no worries god is with me and my brother @ynw.bortlen and we want y’all to remember it’s a ynw Family I love you @ynwsakchaser1 and @ynwjuvy #freeus
In March, Melly and Henry pleaded not guilty to the charges in connection with the case. Williams’ mother called the not guilty pleas ‘another stab in the heart’, Complex report.
The state’s notice of intent to seek death penalty was reportedly filed April 18.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.