Prosecutor removed from YNW Melly murder trial after defense accusations of withholding information

A South Florida judge has removed the lead prosecutor in the double murder retrial of rapper YNW Melly

ByThe Associated Press

October 12, 2023, 6:41 PM

FILE – Jamell Demons, also known as rapper YNW Melly, waits in the courtroom for a question from the jury as they deliberate at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday, July 22, 2023. Florida prosecutors have charged Demons, on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023, with witness tampering in advance of his retrial on double murder charges even as his attorneys accused them of conspiring to hide evidence that the lead detective may have lied in a related investigation. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)

The Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A South Florida judge removed the lead prosecutor in the double murder retrial of rapper YNW Melly on Thursday after defense attorneys claimed prosecutors didn’t reveal that the lead detective in the case had been previously accused of being willing to lie as he gathered evidence.

Broward Circuit Court Judge John Murphy granted the defense’s motion to recuse prosecutor Kristine Bradley in an abundance of caution. The judge didn’t find that Bradley’s integrity had been comprised but agreed that she couldn’t serve as a prosecutor on the case if the defense was planning to call her as a witness regarding the credibility of one of the investigators.

Jury selection is set to begin next week, and no replacement for Bradley was immediately announced.

Last week, attorneys for Melly, whose legal name is Jamell Demons, asked Murphy to remove the Broward State Attorney’s Office from the case and potentially dismiss the case entirely. The request came after Assistant State Attorney Michelle Boutros, who works for the Broward office, testified that she overheard the lead investigator in the case against Demons, Mark Moretti, ask a Broward County deputy to lie about being present when Moretti executed a search warrant outside his jurisdiction last October, forcibly seizing a phone from Demons’ mother as part of a witness tampering investigation.

Defense attorney Jamie Benjamin said that information should have been turned over to the defense because they could have used it to discredit Moretti during Demons’ recent murder trial, which ended in July with a hung jury.

Prosecutors say the exchange between Moretti and the deputy was a joke, pointing to the fact that an attorney for Demons’ mother was present when her phone was taken and would have known the deputy wasn’t there.

Demons’ first murder trial ended with a 9-3 vote for conviction.

Melly faces a possible death sentence if convicted of first-degree murder in the 2018 slayings of two childhood friends, Christopher “YNW Juvy” Thomas and Anthony “YNW Sakchaser” Williams. Their stage names all include “YNW” because they belonged to the same hip-hop collective. It stands for “Young New Wave” or another phrase that includes a racial slur.

Prosecutors say Melly, after a late-night recording session, shot Thomas and Williams inside an SUV and he and Cortlen “YNW Bortlen” Henry then tried to make it look like a drive-by shooting. The 24-year-old rapper remains jailed without bond. Melly’s biggest hit, “Murder on My Mind,” reached No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2019.

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