YNW Melly’s Trial, Sentencing, and Prison Time: The Downfall

ynw melly's trial ynw melly sentencing ynw legal troubles
YNW Melly's mugshot, image is in the public domain.

Unfortunately, YNW Melly’s trial is just the latest example of an artist’s career that has been plagued and overshadowed by legal issues. This time, however, it’s the ultimate issue as YNW Melly’s most recent legal trouble sees him facing charges for a double homicide. If that weren’t enough, the double killing was that of his supposed friends.

What is the story behind it all, and where is YNW Melly now? Is YNW Melly free? Find out that and more below.

Who Did YNW Melly Kill?

YNW Melly, legally known as Jamell Demons, has been accused of and charged with the premeditated murder of two of his friends, having allegedly shot them on Oct. 26, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Those friends were Anthony Williams, aka YNW Sakchaser, 21, and Christopher Thomas Jr., aka YNW Jury, 19.

It is believed that the “Murder on My Mind” rapper, 24, had premeditated the murders alongside Cortlen Malik Henry, aka YNW Bortlen, to stage the murders to look like a drive-by shooting incident turned fatal.

Although he maintained that he was innocent, YNW Melly announced, via Instagram, his intent to turn himself in on Feb. 13, 2019.

“No, I did not get locked up in Washington, but I am turning myself in today… a couple months ago I lost my two brothers by violence and now the system want (sic) to find justice.. unfortunately a lot of rumors and lies are being said but no worries god is with me and my brother @ynw.bortlen and we want y’all to remember it’s a ynw Family I love you” [sic].

Just nine days later, Complex reported that both YNW Melly and YNW Bortlen were also suspects in the fatal shooting of Garry Chambliss in 2017. Chambliss was a deputy of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Department, though he was off duty at the time of the shooting in Gifford.

Related: How Did Tupac Die?

YNW Melly’s Lawyers

It’s like the OJ Simpson trial, then deemed the “Trial of the Century” all over again, as YNW Melly has solicited the help of several lawyers to represent him in his first-degree murder trial.

The “Mixed Personalities” rapper’s lawyers include Jason Roger Williams, Brad Cohen, and Nicole Burdett.

Williams, a defense lawyer and the lead attorney of the trial on behalf of YNW Melly, is best known as the lawyer who was able to get rapper Boosie Badazz acquitted of his first-degree murder charges in 2012.

YNW Melly Trial

Like so many other cases within the legal system, YNW Melly’s trial kept constantly getting postponed for various reasons.

After the trial was postponed three different times in 2022, the defense team requested on May 26, 2022, that a speedy trial take place, meaning it would have to happen in 175 days. That became unfounded as jury selection for the double murder trial did not begin for nearly another year – Apr. 11, 2023. By the time the trial finally started on June 12, 2023.

During the trial, prosecutors presented video and forensic evidence proving the “Suicidal” rapper’s involvement in the murders.

Video evidence included footage of YNW Melly getting into the car where it believed the shooting occurred. Additionally, based on range of impact, forensic evidence showed that the shootings took place inside the vehicle, disproving the defendant’s claim that it was a drive-by shooting. It was determined that all actions were premeditated before they took place.

YNW Melly and YNW Bortlen were then accused of parking the car before exiting and shooting back into the vehicle to further stage the drive-by shooting story.

YNW Melly’s Sentence

As the trial finally was underway, YNW Melly and his defense team went into it, with the disgraced rapper facing the ultimate punishment.

The ups and downs leading up to the trial were extreme, to say the least, as the possible sentences changed. On July 6, 2022, as the trial continued to get delayed, a decision was made that YNW Melly would no longer face capital punishment if convicted.

Four months later, on November 9, 2022, however, an appellate judge overturned that ruling, putting the possibility of capital punishment back in the realm of possibility. YNW Melly’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Florida about the overturn was unsuccessful. The very least he would receive is a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

By the end of the trial, which lasted over a month, it seemed as though the prosecution had done its job and made a solid case against YNW Melly. 

In a surprising twist, the 12-panel member jury, following 14 hours of deliberation over the course of three days, came back with a deadlocked decision, even though they were given an Allen charge by the judge. That means they were urged to try and come to a verdict. One juror, in particular, reportedly is holding out under the belief that YNW Melly was framed in the double murders.

The mistrial was officially declared on July 22, 2023. A new trial is scheduled for Oct. 2, 2023.

Related: How Did Pop Notorious B.I.G. Die?

YNW Melly’s Release Date

Following the mistrial, many have been wondering, “Is YNW Melly still in jail?”

The answer is yes. The “223’s” rapper remains in custody at the Broward County Jail until his retrial. 

YNW Melly’s Other Legal Issues

YNW Melly’s recent double murder trial is not the first time he has been involved in legal trouble. When was the rapper arrested in the past?

The first arrest for YNW Melly came in 2015 before he had even made it big in the music scene.

He was arrested on Oct. 19, 2015, for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (three counts) and for discharging a firearm in public (one count) when he shot at three people near Vero Beach High School. He spent a year in jail for the charges before being released on probation.

YNW Melly apparently didn’t learn his lesson the first time. In 2017, he found himself colliding with law enforcement again when he violated his probation. As a result, he returned to jail for several months before he was rereleased in March 2018.

Three months later, on June 30, 2018, he was arrested for a third time in Fort Myers, Florida. He was charged with the possession of marijuana and a firearm, as well as drug paraphernalia. Less than a year later, on January 3, 2019, he was arrested for the fourth time for his second possession of marijuana.  

How is YNW Melly Still Making Music?

YNW Melly hasn’t stopped thinking about his music career just because he is behind bars. In fact, through Soundcloud, he has been able to produce his 2021 album Just a Matter of Slime. 

Soundcloud is a streaming service that allows the user to upload content to his or her personal profile. The service has become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to its ease of use, as well as its lack of anonymity and censorship, unlike record labels and traditional radio stations.

It even allows artists to collaborate with others with ease since everyone has access to the same features and tools.

YNW Melly’s ability to continue making music was also made possible by the Inmate Music Production Programs now available in prisons in certain states. The program gives inmates access to computers, usually for educational purposes, but would still allow the rapper to do what was needed, including checking email and uploading his music. Several prisons also have recording studios available.

His signing to an established record label didn’t hurt either in the process.

Despite all these efforts, the reception of the album, which was officially released on August 13, 2021, and featured several guest appearances from such artists as Kodak Black, Future, and Young Thug, was uninspired, to say the least.

AllMusic said of the album, “The project features old vocals from the pre-2019 vault – and as a result, the album’s features tend to take the main state.”

The review continues, with critics noting, “unfortunately, Melly’s own vocals don’t quite match the energy of his contemporaries” and “much of the album lacks the outlandish personality that made him so popular in the late 2010s. When combined with uninspired and sonically incohesive production, these tracks result in a lethargic layover tape, rather than a second full album.”

Related: Future’s Net Worth


Will the retrial end the same? Will YNW Melly be convicted and receive life in prison or a death sentence? Keep checking back for all the latest updates as they come.

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Written by Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth in 2015. She has worked in journalism since 2015, beginning as production assistant and eventual head staff writer of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Currently, she is a multimedia journalist with the Diocese of Nashville's Office of Media and Evangelization where she writes, does photography, and edits for several types of content, including the Tennessee Register, Catholic Awakenings, and She has also worked as a freelance journalist with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas's newspaper, The Leaven, since 2016.
In her spare time, Peterson enjoys reading, spending time with her pup, Sadie Lynn, singing and songwriting.


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