YNW Melly will no longer face the death penalty in his double murder trial.
The Florida rapper has been in jail since February 2019 after being arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder stemming from the October 2018 shooting of his friends, Anthony Williams (YNW Sakchaser) and Christopher Thomas Jr. (YNW Juvy).
The state of Florida had sought the death penalty against Melly, but the rapper’s legal team was able to remove corporal punishment from the sentencing based on a technicality.
According to court documents, obtained by Pitchfork, Melly’s attorneys filed a motion to preclude the state from seeking the death penalty on April 27, citing a specific rule in Florida’s criminal procedure. The notice was supposed to be filed with the court within 45 days of Melly’s March 2 arraignment, but the deadline passed.
“The State must additionally now prove that the Defendant committed the charged offenses for the purpose of benefiting, promoting, or furthering the interests of a criminal gang, which was never alleged in the original Indictment,” reads the filing. “Since the 45 day Notice of Intent to Seek Death has expired, the State should therefore be precluded from seeking a penalty of death in this cause.”
Following the decision, Melly’s mother reacted to the news on Instagram. “Death penalty has officially been removed from @ynwmelly case. Thank you Jesus,” she wrote, adding, “I’m literally crying real tears. You coming home son @ynwmelly.”
The family of one of the victims, Anthony Williams, previously said they would support the death penalty. “If the state of Florida feels the death penalty is warranted in this case then we 100% fully support it,” the Williams family told TMZ.
Melly remains in a South Florida jail as he awaits trial in his double murder case. The 23-year-old rapper, whose real name is Jamell Demons, and his associate Cortlen Henry (YNW Bortlen) are accused of shooting the two men and staging the crime to make it seem like their friends were killed during a drive-by shooting.
“I just want to let all my fans know that God is real,” Melly told fans during a 2019 call from jail. “He’s the reason I’m coming home.”