Broward County prosecutors have based their case on the double murder trial of South Florida rapper Jamell Demons, also known as YNW Melly, after the production of key ballistics evidence and testimony from a Miramar detective who led the investigation. investigation.
In the absence of a murder weapon or an eyewitness pointing to Demons as the killer in the 2018 murder of two members of his rap crew, Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr., prosecutors based their case on reconstruction of the scene. crime, forensic data and text conversations. allegedly showing tension between Demons and Williams.
Over the past month, Kristine Bradley of the Broward County State’s Attorney’s Office has sought to discredit co-defendant Cortlen Henry’s claim that the two victims were shot in a drive-by attack after leaving the studio session. of Demons in the early morning of October 26, 2018.
Henry, who is being tried separately, drove Williams and Thomas to the hospital that morning in a blood-soaked Jeep SUV before they were pronounced dead. Demons was seen on camera leaving the studio with the three men hours earlier, but he was no longer in the vehicle when he arrived at the hospital.
Bradley called firearms experts, medical examiners and a crime scene reconstruction specialist to the stand in an attempt to prove the state’s allegations that Demons shot his associates from inside the Jeep and that the story of the shooting from a moving vehicle was an invention.
He defense team keeps the state has not presented any viable motive or hard evidence that Demons pulled the trigger.
Throughout the trial, which began in mid-June, Demons’ defense and Broward prosecutors have been arguing incessantly over evidentiary issues, with countless sidebars and the jury repeatedly being removed from the courtroom.
At the start of the proceedings, the judge rejected attempts by prosecutors to show images of Demons with a firearm, though the jury was allowed to view a long procession of text messages that prosecutors say show the rapper would join to the G-Shine branch of the group. Bloods gang shortly before the murders.
Broward Circuit Court Judge John Murphy has denied the defense’s mistrial motions, including a recent motion alleging that Demons’ image was unfairly tainted before the jury when the prosecution displayed a text message. in which Demons appeared to insult his mother.
The trial was postponed after a defense attorney reported that he was ill last week. Proceedings resumed on Monday, July 17, when Bradley called the Miramar Police Department’s lead detective on the case, Mark Moretti, back to the stand.
The Broward prosecutors’ case relies heavily on a reconstruction of the shooting by Broward Sheriff’s Sgt. Christopher Williams.
During his testimony, Sgt. Williams claimed that the trajectory of the shots he traced shows that the bullets that killed Williams and Thomas did not come from outside the Jeep.
“The blood evidence shows that it happened from inside the car. The angles showed that it happened from inside the car,” she testified.
Prosecutors say the reconstruction of the shooting confirms that Demons fired the rounds while sitting in the back seat on the driver’s side of the vehicle. Sergeant Williams testified that Thomas’s injury to his left cheek had a “tattoo,” a wound pattern indicative of a point-blank shot from inside the vehicle.
Williams’ blood spatters on the front seat, according to Sgt. Williams, was consistent with someone being shot at point-blank range in the back of the head, with the projectile exiting the front and causing blood to spray onto the headliner or roof of the vehicle.
On cross-examination, the defense asked the sergeant why he was so sure that the bullets could not have been fired by an assailant who was aiming from outside the vehicle.
Defense attorney David Howard noted that during his investigation, Sgt. Williams admitted that he characterized the Miramar Police Department’s earlier attempt to reconstruct the shooting as “the worst [he] have ever seen in [his] life.”
The prosecution expert admitted to calling the Miramar Police Department’s reconstruction of the earlier shooting the “worst thing” he had seen in his career.
On the dais, Sgt. Williams admitted, with a broad smile, that when he took responsibility for reconstructing the shooting, he made those unflattering comments and believed the Miramar police lacked training in forensic reconstruction.
Howard tried to suggest that the outcome of the investigation was a foregone conclusion given that Miramar police had informed Sgt. Williams that Demons and Henry were the accused murderers as he set out to complete his crime scene modeling.
“The state informed me who the defendants were,” said Sgt. Williams testified when he was questioned by Howard.
Motions for mistrial
Testimony last month from Felicia Holmes, the mother of Demons’ girlfriend at the time of the shooting, marked one of the most tense moments of the trial.
Although called to the stand by the prosecution, Holmes was visibly irritated by Bradley, claiming that the prosecutor intimidated her and that the state attorney’s office jailed her for unsubstantiated claims that she failed to appear for proceedings.
During direct questioning, Bradley recited previous statements Holmes had made to police, some of which concerned a panicked phone conversation Holmes overheard between his daughter and Demons shortly after the shooting.
Bradley also referred to social media posts in which he suggested that Holmes was furious that Demons was not following through on his promises to look after her financially.
“You can call me Mz Snitch Bitch because I’m blowing my ass at the prosecutor,” Holmes allegedly wrote on Instagram.
Defense attorney Howard sought a mistrial on the grounds that Bradley was maneuvering to recite Holmes’s earlier statements in defiance of a directive by Judge Murphy.
The judge denied the motion for mistrial, writing that he upheld objections to the line of questioning where appropriate and that the jury was instructed to ignore improper recitations of past statements.
In another mistrial motion on July 12, Howard argued that the prosecutor presented evidence of prejudicial text messages in which Demons called his mother a “bitch,” which the attorney said irrevocably tarnished his client’s image in front of the public. the eyes of the jury.
“Several mothers on that jury may be inclined to convict just because they overheard irrelevant and unrelated conversations between Demons and his mother in which he calls her the word b and all kinds of disrespect,” Howard argued.
The July 12 motion was denied in open court.
Minor tiff or deadly feud?
To wrap up the prosecution’s case, Bradley called Miramar’s lead detective Mark Moretti to the stand and showed dozens of alleged text messages between Williams and Demons, attempting to convince jurors the pair had a tenuous relationship before the shooting.
While the state claimed that the text messages showed the couple would argue over money and influence, other messages showed them interacting as close friends and expressing interest in overcoming their disagreements.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m tired of everyone getting the credit for that shit.”
Bradley showed the jury an exchange in late August 2018 in which he claims Williams sent Demons a message saying, “I’m not lying, I’m tired of everyone taking the credit.”
The demons allegedly responded by declaring in part: “I will pay you for everything [you] did for me… Every idea, all of it. We were always brothers.”
“But I’ll never hurt you, hold on,” Demons reportedly said.
Demons went on to say that both he and Williams needed space and that he did not want to be in a house with anyone who he thought was trying to “get them all the time,” according to prosecutors.
Some text exchanges allegedly show that Williams was frustrated with the way Demons’ mother was treating him.
Treveon Glass, who was in the study with Demons, Henry, Thomas and Williams the night before the murders, told the court that he was not aware of any dispute between Demons and the two victims that night. Glass, who expressed his frustration at having to testify, said he remembers seeing Demons the next day at rapper Fredo Bang’s house, wearing a different pair of clothes.
Demons’ manager, Jameson Francois (AKA 100K Track), told law and crime that Demons and Williams’ disagreements never escalated to the point where Demons would hurt Williams and that the two were still close friends at the time of the murder.
To close out his case, Bradley showed jurors Instagram messages from the night after the shooting, when an associate wrote Demons to ask if he was okay.
Demons responded, “I did that,” followed by “Shhhh,” according to Bradley’s transcript.
Bradley has insisted since his opening arguments that the trade amounted to an admission by Demons.
In an attempt to cast doubt on whether Demons was the one who wrote the message, defense attorney Stuart Adelstein produced a series of text messages in which Demons was in the habit of using the slang “dat” instead of “it.”
Adelstein pressed Moretti about why Miramar police did not obtain a search warrant for Fredo Bang’s home, to which the detective replied that by the time they were able to determine his address, he had moved. Adelstein then rattled off a list of names of people who had ties to the victims but were not formally investigated by the Miramar Police Department.
Demons, 24, grew up on Florida’s Treasure Coast. He rose to fame with platinum-selling auto tuned songs like “Mixed Personalities” featuring Kanye West, “Suicidal” and “Murder on My Mind.”
The rapper faces two counts of first degree murder, which could carry a death sentence if convicted. under the florida recently passed lawthe state lowered the capital punishment threshold so that a jury can recommend the death penalty with a vote of 8 to 4, rather than the previously required unanimous vote.
The demons briefly avoided the prospect of execution when their lawyers successfully argued in Broward court in 2022 that the state had failed to resubmit a death penalty notice when a new indictment was filed years after his arrest. But a panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeals overturned the county court’s decision and allowed prosecutors to seek a death sentence.
This is a developing story and will be updated..