ATLANTA (Court TV) — Rapper Young Thug and five others are standing trial, as opening statements began on Nov. 27 — one year after a sprawling indictment on gang and racketeering charges.
Young Thug, whose legal name is Jeffrey Lamar Williams, and more than two dozen others were indicted on charges for their involvement in a gang known as Young Slime Life (YSL). The indictment included charges of racketeering, theft, burglary, assault, weapons possession, conspiracy, attempted murder and murder charges. Some of the defendants in the case have already reached plea agreements with prosecutors, while others were separated to be tried at a later date not yet set. Among those who reached plea deals was Atlanta rapper Gunna, aka Sergio Kitchens. Kitchens was sentenced to five years in prison, with credit for time served and the balance suspended, after entering an Alford plea to a racketeering conspiracy charge.
Prosecutors allege that the YSL gang started in 2012 on Cleveland Ave. in Atlanta and is associated with the national Bloods gang. Founded by 32-year-old rapper Young Thug (aka Slime), DK (aka Walter Murphy) and Tick (aka Trontavious Stevens, aka Slug), the gang rose to prominence partly because of references to it in songs and on social media.
The indictment charges several members of the gang with three murders and ten attempted murders, including the attempted murders of two Atlanta police officers on Jan. 7, 2022. Different defendants are named in each of the crimes, and while Young Thug was not charged with murder, his name was listed in the indictment in connection with the murder of Donovan Thomas, Jr., a member of a rival gang.
Young Thug’s music will be a focus of the trial after a judge ruled that prosecutors will be allowed to use his lyrics as evidence. The 88-page indictment includes many social media posts and quoted lyrics that prosecutors say are evidence of racketeering and conspiracy.
Identifying tattoos of “YSL,” pendants, green emojis, and hand signs were noted along with lyrics including, “I never killed anybody, but I got something to do with that body,” “I told them to shoot a hundred rounds” and “you better watch the way you breathe around me for that breath be your last, boy.”
Defense attorney Doug Weinstein, who represents defendant Deamonte Kendrick (aka Yak Gotti), said that the nature of rap music and its lyrics will unfairly prejudice the jury.
“They’re going to look at these lyrics and instantly say they are guilty,” he said. “They are not going to look at the evidence that’s actually probative of their guilt once these lyrics get in front of them.”
Attorneys for the defendants have argued that YSL is a music label, not a gang.
Opening Statements Set to Begin in Young Thug RICO Trial
State’s Open Describing Young Thug’s ‘Violent Street Gang’ Interrupted by Defense
Young Thug RICO Trial: Defense Files Motion for Mistrial
Young Thug RICO Trial: Judge Grows Frustrated as Attorneys Argue
Young Thug RICO Trial: Day 1 Recap
Prosecutor: Young Thug ‘wreaked utter havoc’ as gang leader
Young Thug’s Defense Attorney Delivers Opening Statement
Young Thug RICO Trial: Detective Outlines Investigation into YSL