Defense attorneys for rapper YNW Melly say South Florida prosecutors committed felony obstruction of justice by not revealing that the lead detective in the rapper’s double-murder case had been previously accused of being willing to lie as he gathered evidence.
Attorneys for Melly, whose legal name is Jamell Demons, asked Broward Circuit Judge John J. Murphy to remove the Broward State Attorney’s Office from the case and potentially dismiss it entirely, the 'Sun Sentinel' reported. Jury selection in the retrial of the 24-year-old rapper was set to start next week, but the judge pushed it back a week on Friday and set hearings for next week to deal with the obstruction allegations.
The request from the defense attorneys comes after Assistant State Attorney Michelle Boutros, who works for the Broward office, testified that she overheard Miramar Police Detective Mark Moretti, lead investigator in the case against Demons, ask a Broward County deputy to lie about being present when Moretti executed a search warrant outside his jurisdiction last October, forcibly seizing a phone from Demons’ mother as part of a witness tampering investigation.
Defense attorney Jamie Benjamin said that information that should have been turned over to the defense because they could have used it to discredit Moretti during Demons’ recent murder trial, which ended in July with a hung jury.
Prosecutors say the exchange between Moretti and the deputy was a joke, pointing to the fact that an attorney for Demons’ mother was present when her phone was taken and would have known the deputy wasn’t there.
Assistant State Attorney Kristine Bradley, lead prosecutor on the Demons case, testified Friday that the deputy gave a flippant response when asked about being in the room when the warrant was executed.
Demons’ first murder trial ended with a 9-3 vote for conviction.
Melly faces a possible death sentence if convicted of first-degree murder in the 2018 slayings of two childhood friends, Christopher “YNW Juvy” Thomas and Anthony “YNW Sakchaser” Williams. Their stage names all include “YNW” because they belonged to the same hip-hop collective. It stands for “Young New Wave” or another phrase that includes a racial slur.
Prosecutors say Melly, after a late-night recording session, shot Thomas and Williams inside an SUV and he and Cortlen “YNW Bortlen” Henry then tried to make it look like a drive-by shooting. Melly, whose legal name is Jamell Demons, remains jailed without bond. Melly’s biggest hit, “Murder on My Mind,” reached No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2019.