ATLANTA (Court TV) — The RICO trial against rapper Young Thug and five of his associates entered its 15th day after opening statements began in November and the case experienced a three-week hiatus in December.
Prosecutors allege that Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffrey Lamar Williams, was running Atlanta’s most violent street gang, YSL (which reportedly stands for Young Slime Life). The defense maintains that YSL is simply a record label and lifestyle brand. Although Young Thug and five co-defendants are currently on trial, 28 defendants were originally indicted in the case.
Trontavious Stephens, who was largely the focus of last week’s testimony, is back on the stand Monday, answering questions about alleged gang signs and gestures the state says YSL used to communicate real-life gang activity. Stephens took a plea deal and agreed to serve as a witness for the prosecution, but his direct testimony has proven to be frustrating. The State has had a difficult time wrenching answers out of him, as he has been uncooperative and even cantankerous at times.
In accordance with his plea deal, Stephens agreed to tell the truth under oath, and he cannot invoke the Fifth Amendment. Stephens, 30, who is also known as “Tick” and “Slug,” told the jury that he, along with Young Thug and Walter Murphy, co-founded YSL.
Stephens’ testimony thus far has consisted of vague answers and many lapses in memory. For example, Stephens claimed to have forgotten events surrounding the night rapper Lil Wayne’s tour bus was shot up off a Georgia interstate in 2015.
Stephens also claimed he was unaware of the term “snitch” or its meaning.
Before reaching his plea deal, Stephens had initially faced up to 20 years in prison on one single RICO count, but he was given a 10-year sentence with two years and time served — with the remainder to be served on probation.
Young Thug and 27 others were indicted by a Fulton County grand jury in 2022 on conspiracy to violate the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. Only defendants Marquavius Huey, Deamonte “Yak Gotti” Kendrick, Quamarvious Nichols, Rodalius Ryan and Shannon Stillwell remain. If convicted, the rapper faces between five and 20 years in prison, each on the racketeering conspiracy charge and two gang charges. The five additional charges against Young Thug could also invoke prison time.