Rapper YNW Melly could face the death penalty in Florida killings

Florida prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty against rapper YNW Melly in connection with the killing of two men.

In this handout photo provided by the Broward’s Sheriff’s Office, rapper YNW Melly, real name Jamell Demons, is seen in a police booking photo after being charged with two counts of murder in the first degree February 13, 2019 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Demons allegedly conspired with Cortlen Henry to fatally shot two other Florida based rappers, Christopher Thomas Jr and Anthony Williams, October 26. (Photo by Broward’s Sheriff’s Office via Getty Images)

Prosecutors will look to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” the 19-year-old rapper, whose legal name is Jamell Demons, committed homicide “in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner” for financial gain, according to a State Notice of Intent to Seek the Death Penalty.

Police arrested YNW Melly and another man, Cortlen Henry, in February, charging them with two counts of murder. Police said YNW Melly fatally shot his friends and then staged the crime scene to look like a drive-by shooting.

The rapper’s album “We All Shine” was released in January and featured the hit song “Mixed Personalities” with Kanye West.

‘They took my brothers from me’

YNW Melly was arrested after the deaths of Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr., both of Vero Beach, Florida, according to Miramar Police. On October 26 at 4:35 a.m., police said, Henry drove up to the Memorial Miramar Hospital with both victims in the vehicle. They had multiple gunshot wounds and were pronounced dead at the hospital, police said.

Henry gave a statement to police, but the facts discovered during the preliminary investigation did not match what was presented to detectives, police said. Further investigation and forensic evidence found that YNW Melly shot and killed Williams and Thomas, and that YNW Melly and Henry then staged the scene to resemble a drive-by shooting, police said.

The day after the shooting, YNW Melly mourned the loss of his “brothers” in an Instagram post full of breaking heart emojis.

“They Took My Brothers From Me Over Jealousy,” he wrote. “I know y’all watching over me.”

In February, the rapper took to Instagram again, saying he was turning himself in to police and referred to “rumors and lies” about him.

“I want you guys to know I love you and appreciate every single one of y’all,” he wrote. “[A] couple months ago I lost my two brothers by violence and now the system want to find justice.. unfortunately a lot of rumors and lies are being said but no worries god is with me and my brother.”

The Instagram caption ended with a hashtag: “#freeus”

The rapper had an up-and-coming career

Before his arrest, YNW Melly had just begun a concert tour across the country, and his Instagram was full of the trappings of hip-hop stardom: stacks of cash, diamond jewelry and a gold grill covering his smiling teeth.

Billboard interviewed him a week before he was arrested and the rapper discussed his plans for 2019, how he linked up with Kanye and his overall background. During the interview, he said the two men who were fatally shot were his “day one brothers” and that he couldn’t speak on whether he was a target in the shooting.

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