YNW Melly is set for a retrial in Fort Lauderdale, Florida early next year. He faces double murder charges in the 2018 deaths of associates Christopher “YNW Juvy” Thomas Jr. and Anthony “YNW Sakchaser” Williams.
In July, Circuit Court Judge John Murphy III declared a mistrial after jurors were unable to reach a consensus after prolonged deliberation. According to The Guardian, prosecutors now plan to use Melly’s lyrics as evidence.
Alixandra Buckelew intends to introduce 55 songs, including Melly’s hit “Murder on My Mind,” four album covers, and 18 audio files. Her strategy marks a shift from the first trial, where prosecutor Kristine Bradley chose not to use lyrics, considering them “artistic expression.”
Raven Liberty, Melly’s defense attorney, subsequently requested Judge Murphy exclude songs, music videos, and lyrics. “To receive something this late in the game is just part and parcel of what they’ve been doing the entire time,” she told the Miami Herald.
The proceeding’s stakes are underscored by the fact that Melly faces the death penalty if convicted. In October, he was accused of attempting to deter deponents from testifying truthfully. Both he and YNW Bortlen were handed witness tampering charges.
On the music side, Melly’s last album came out in 2021. Just A Matter of Slime featured Lil Uzi Vert, Kodak Black, Hotboii, Lil Durk, Lil Tjay, Lil Baby, Future, and more. It also spawned tracks like “Mind of Melvin,” “Take Kare,” and “Na Na Na Boo Boo.”
The use of lyrics in criminal proceedings sparked legal and cultural debates throughout the past several years. Artists like Metro Boomin, Meek Mill, and Killer Mike objected to a similar approach in Young Thug’s YSL RICO case in Atlanta.
The “Hot” rapper’s trial was pushed to 2024 after his co-defendant, Shannon Stillwell, was stabbed in Fulton County Jail.