A mistrial was declared on Saturday (July 22) in the South Florida trial of rapper YNW Melly, who stood accused of murdering two of his friends five years ago, as the jury remained deadlocked.
The 12-member jury could not reach a unanimous verdict even after three days of deliberations. Broward County prosecutors, who sought the death penalty, are expected to retry the case with a fresh jury, as a unanimous verdict is required for either conviction or acquittal.
Broward Circuit Judge John Murphy urged the jurors twice to continue deliberating when they expressed their deadlock, but ultimately accepted their decision after they confirmed their impasse for the third time.
The charges against YNW Melly, whose real name is Jamell Demons, were related to the fatal shooting of Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr. inside a Jeep, where all three were present. Williams and Thomas were associated with the YNW collective and known as YNW Sakchaser and YNW Juvy, respectively.
The prosecution argued that the shooting was a result of gang-related activity, while the defense countered that this claim lacked credibility as Demons and the victims were close friends.
According to prosecutors, on October 26, 2018, Demons, Williams, and Thomas were riding in a Jeep driven by Cortland Henry, known as YNW Bortlen, after a recording session in Fort Lauderdale. It was alleged that Demons shot and killed Williams and Thomas during the ride. Henry, charged as an accomplice, will face a separate trial.
After the fatal shootings, prosecutors claimed that Demons and Henry drove the bodies to an area near the Everglades and shot at the back and passenger sides of the Jeep from the outside to create the illusion of a drive-by shooting involving Williams and Thomas.
However, ballistics tests presented by the prosecution indicated that the shots were fired from inside the Jeep.
The defense focused on the fact that the murder weapon was never recovered and also argued that YNW Melly lacked any apparent motive for committing the crime.
Prior to his legal troubles, YNW Melly rose to fame in 2017 and collaborated with Kanye West on the track "Mixed Personalities," which was released in January 2019, just a month before Demons, aged 24 at the time, was arrested on murder charges.