YNW Melly’s double murder case has ended in a mistrial after the jury could not come to a conclusion following three days of deadlock, reports The Miami Herald. Broward Circuit Court Judge John J. Murphy III asked the jurors to keep deliberating on two different occasions. However, when the jury said they were “still unable to reach a unanimous decision” on the third day, he approved the mistrial verdict. YNW Melly has not been found guilty or not guilty. As such, prosecutors may pursue a new trial within 90 days of the original trial.
After the decision was made, Judge Murphy thanked the jurors for their efforts and for taking part in such a long trial. “These types of decisions, they’re hard decisions,” he said. “We very much appreciate the fact that you gave us the time because we’ve been here a long time. We understand that. You gave us the time and you did your best effort to [bring about resolution] but unfortunately that wasn’t able to happen.”
YNW Melly was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, for killing Anthony “YNW Sakchaser” Williams and Christopher “YNW Juvy” Thomas Jr. in October 2018. Nearly four-and-a-half years after YNW Melly’s arrest, the rapper’s trial began in mid-June, and was streamed live on Law&Crime Network’s YouTube channel. The jury was not present for the proceedings, during which YNW Melly blew kisses and kept a casual air. Judge Murphy discouraged jury members from seeking out further information about the trial.
Prosecutors argued that YNW Melly killed Williams and Thomas in a car after they’d been together at a recording studio in Fort Lauderdale, and that afterward, the rapper dropped off their bodies at a hospital, claiming they’d been victims of a drive-by shooting. Witnesses for the prosecution included a woman named Felicia Holmes, whose daughter was dating YNW Melly at the time of the shooting. Holmes stated multiple times that she felt intimidated into testifying, prompting YNW Melly’s defense attorney to file a motion for a mistrial that Judge Murphy denied. Other witnesses for the prosecution included a crime lab analyst, a firearms expert, a crime scene supervisor, and a detective specializing in gangs, who wore a mask in order to protect his identity amid undercover work.
The prosecution’s star witness was Mark Moretti, who worked as the lead detective in the murder investigation and spent several days on the stand sifting through messages and other posts attributed to YNW Melly during the case. The most important was an Instagram message where Melly reportedly wrote “I did that,” which the prosecution took as an implied confession. One of the rapper’s attorneys alleged that YNW Melly could not have sent the message, because he typically used the slang “dat” instead of “that”; the prosecution produced evidence demonstrating his occasional use of “that.” YNW Melly’s defense team made another request for a mistrial in opposition to Moretti’s testimony, which Judge Murphy denied.
The prosecution rested its case on Monday, July 17, and the defense called Adrian Green, a friend of YNW Melly, as its lone witness the following day. YNW Melly did not take the stand in his defense. Cortlen “YNW Bortlen” Henry, who was in the car with the other YNW rappers at the time of the incident, is set to go to trial later this year.