Trial of YNW Melly: Because of Florida law, it’s now easier for rappers to get the death penalty

The presiding judge in the YNW Melly case has allowed prosecutors to implement a new law that will increase his chances of the death penalty if a majority of the jury finds him guilty.

The rapper is currently on trial with a colleague for the murder of two of his friends. According to prosecutors, YNW Melly and his co-defendant YNW Bortlen killed two of their friends by shooting them at close range and then staging a shootout to make it appear that the men had died in a shootout from a passing car.

If convicted, Melly originally only faced life imprisonment, but it appears the death penalty is back on the table and new legislative changes will allow conviction by a mere majority rather than a unanimous decision.

According to Law & Crime, Broward Judge John Murphy is allowing prosecutors to use the new law, which allows a 12-member jury to recommend a death sentence once there is an 8-4 majority.

The Broward County District Attorney’s Office has confirmed that this new requirement replaces a higher standard that requires the jury to have a unanimous guilty verdict from the panel before the death sentence can go into effect.

The “Murder on My Mind” rapper’s trial is set to begin the week of June 20 with a jury yet to be formed.

His case is important to watch because it is one of the first cases in the state of Florida to see the new law go into effect, and at the federal level it is the first law of its kind with such a low standard for handing out the death penalty. The law was passed in response to the life sentence of Parkland High School mass shooter Nikolas Cruz after a 9-3 jury voted for him to receive the death penalty instead of a unanimous vote.

The rapper has remained in custody along with Bortlen on first-degree murder charges since 2019. Bortlen had been granted bail but was arrested again in 2021 for violating conditions.

Did YNW Melly kill his two friends?

YNW Sakchaser and YNW Juvy
YNW Sakchaser (Anthony Williams Jr.) left and YNW Juvy (Christopher Thomas Jr.) right

According to prosecutors, there is strong evidence that Melly and Bortlen killed Chris Thomas, aka YNW Juvy, and Anthony Williams, aka YNW Sakchaser, in 2018.

The rapper is accused of being the one who shot the two victims while Bortlen was taking them to Memorial Hospital in Miramar, Fla., where they were allegedly killed in a shootout from a passing car.

YNW Melly’s family has not commented on the latest development.

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