Prosecutors in Florida have announced that they will seek the death penalty against a hip-hop star accused of committing two murders. Jamell Demons, who is more widely known as YNW Melly, has been charged with gunning down two men in Miramar in October 2018. The 19-year-old rapper, who is currently free while he awaits trial, maintains his innocence and has vowed on social media to mount a vigorous defense in court.
According to police reports, Demons and a 20-year-old man who has also been charged with murder told officers that the two men had been shot multiple times by an unidentified drive-by shooter. However, Demons became the focus of the investigation when forensic evidence gathered at the scene allegedly contradicted his initial statement. Prosecutors now believe that Demons committed the crimes and the man who has also been charged helped him to cover them up.
Initial media reports do not reveal what type of forensic evidence led them to believe that Demons was lying, and they have yet to establish a motive for his alleged actions. They reportedly believe that Demons shot the two men and then rearranged the crime scene before driving them to a nearby hospital. The 19-year-old and 21-year-old victims were pronounced dead upon arrival.
In states like Florida that allow capital punishment, prosecutors sometimes seek the death penalty to encourage defendants to enter into plea agreements that offer more lenient treatment. This may happen when prosecutors have strong physical evidence but lack eyewitnesses or a compelling motive. When faced with such situations, experienced criminal defense attorneys may suggest accepting a plea agreement if the evidence against their client is convincing and the flaws in the prosecution case could be rectified before trial.
Source: NBC News, Florida rapper YNW Melly faces death penalty in double murder case, Doha Madani, April 22, 2019