New trial in YNW Melly murder case set for October

A new trial date has been set for October in the murder case against rapper Jamell Demons, better known by his stage name YNW Melly.

Jurors deliberated for over 14 hours in a span of three days after closing arguments on July 20 but could not unanimously decide whether Demons was the shooter who killed Anthony “YNW Sakchaser” Williams and Christopher “YNW Juvy” Thomas Jr. inside a Jeep in an isolated area off U.S. 27 in Miramar in 2018.

Judge John J. Murphy declared a mistrial on July 22, despite his instruction that the jurors were to do everything possible to resolve their differences.

The process of selecting a new jury will begin at 9 a.m. Oct. 2, according to court records. Prosecutors who were seeking the death penalty in the last trial can reconsider whether they’ll do so in the new trial.

If Demons is convicted of the murders of his friends and fellow rappers, the jurors will then decide whether to sentence him to death. Eight out of 12 jurors need to recommend the death sentence.

Demons and Cortland “YNW Bortlen” Henry, who was driving the Jeep, are accused of shooting into the car from the outside to make it look as if the victims were killed in a drive-by shooting.

Henry drove the Jeep to Memorial Hospital Miramar’s emergency room with the two victims inside, Demon’s probable cause affidavit said. The outside of the Jeep had no less than nine bullet holes.

Prosecutors say the victims were already dead when Demons and Cortland staged the shooting, and forensic evidence showed they were killed from someone sitting in the back seat, inside the car. Surveillance footage showed Demons getting into the back seat of the Jeep behind Henry when they all left a Fort Lauderdale recording studio together.

Before resting on July 18, Melly’s defense attorneys called only one witness who testified that Demons was home when Thomas and Williams were killed. The defense has argued investigators honed in on Demons because of his celebrity status.

Henry’s trial will be separate.

Sun Sentinel staff writer Rafael Olmeda contributed to this report.

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