MIAMI — After a busy week filled with court filings, YNW Melly’s legal team is asking the judge to bar the prosecutor — and her colleagues — from retrying the double murder case.
The rapper’s defense lawyers last Friday urged Broward Circuit Court Judge John Murphy to recuse all employees from the State Attorney’s Office for the 17th Judicial Circuit from the retrial. The filing was centered around Miramar Police Detective Mark Moretti’s alleged wrongdoing and a supposed cover-up by the State Attorney’s Office, a theory the defense has incorporated into its strategy.
“In essence, there are too many witnesses from the 17th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office ... for this State Attorney’s Office to remain as the prosecutors in this case,” the filing says.
Melly, 24, whose real name is Jamell Demons, is accused of gunning down his childhood friends Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr. in an alleged drive-by after spending the night of Oct. 26, 2018, at a Fort Lauderdale recording studio. Williams and Thomas, both aspiring rappers with the YNW collective, were known as YNW Sakchaser and YNW Juvy, respectively.
He’s among the first defendants to go to trial after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law to lower the threshold for a death sentence to an 8-4 jury vote, from the previous requirement for a unanimous vote.
So, what’s happening?
In late August, defense attorneys learned that Moretti, the lead detective in the case, was ”under investigation” for an incident involving excessive use of force against a potential witness. They accused prosecutor Kristine Bradley of a Brady violation, or concealing information favorable to the defense, for allegedly not divulging details about an incident Moretti.
Under Florida law, prosecutors are required to disclose any information that may be favorable to the defense. The discovery of Brady violations, in some cases, have even led to overturned convictions.
Bradley, in court documents, said that Moretti was taking a statement from Jamie King, Melly’s mother, in a conference room on the seventh floor of the Broward courthouse. Prosecutor Michelle Boutros, King’s attorney Robert Trachman and Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jason Hendrick were present at the time.
At some point, Hendrick stepped out, and Moretti executed a search warrant for King’s phone, according to Bradley’s filing.
©2023 Miami Herald. Visit miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.