FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A deadlocked jury triggered a mistrial Saturday in the rapper’s South Florida trial. YNW Melly accused of murdering two of his friends five years ago.
The 12-member panel was unable to reach a unanimous verdict after three days of deliberations. Broward County prosecutors, who were seeking the death penalty, will likely opt to retry the case with a new jury. A unanimous verdict is required to convict or acquit a defendant.
Broward Circuit Judge John Murphy twice asked jurors to continue deliberating after they said they were deadlocked, but they relented after they returned a third time.
Prosecutors say YNW Melly, whose legal name is Jamell Demons, shot Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr. while they were inside a Jeep. Williams and Thomas were part of the YNW collective, known respectively as YNW Sakchaser and YNW Juvy.
Prosecutors said the shooting was part of a gang action, while defense attorneys said the claim lacks credibility because Demons and the victims were close friends.
According to prosecutors, Demons, Williams and Thomas were riding in a jeep driven by Cortland Henry, known as YNW Bortlen, after a recording session in Fort Lauderdale on Oct. 26, 2018. They say Demons fatally shot Williams and Thomas. Henry is charged as an accessory in the case and will be tried separately.
After killing Williams and Thomas, prosecutors said Demons and Henry took the bodies to an area near the Everglades, where they shot the rear and passenger side of Henry’s Jeep from the outside to make it appear that Williams and Thomas had been the victims of a drive-by shooting.
But prosecutors say ballistics evidence shows both were shot from inside the Jeep.
Defense attorneys focused on the fact that the gun was never recovered. They also told the jury that YNW Melly had no apparent motive for the crime.
YNW Melly found her break in 2017 and went on to work with Kanye West on “Mixed Personalities,” which was released in January 2019, a month before Demons, 24, was arrested on murder charges.