Jury still undecided in trial XXXTentacion's accused killers
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Jurors in the trial of three men accused of murdering rising rap star XXXTentacion outside a Florida motorcycle dealership nearly five years ago again failed to reach a verdict Tuesday, their fifth day of deliberations.
The jury has deliberated for about 20 hours since getting the case March 8. The panel of 12 will return to court Wednesday.
Jurors asked Tuesday to get a copy of text messages Michael Boatwright, the accused shooter, sent and received on June 18, 2018, the day the rapper was killed during a robbery that netted $50,000. They had seen a computer projection of those messages and those of Dedrick Williams, the accused ringleader, on Monday after asking to review them.
The only other significant question they have asked was to see a transcript of Williams' statement to detectives after his arrest. The lead detective testified about that statement, but no transcript was entered as evidence. They were told to rely on their memory of what he said.
Twenty-eight-year-old Boatwright along with Williams, 26, and accused second gunman Trayvon Newsome, 24, are all charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery. They all face mandatory life sentences if convicted. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty. While the three are being tried together, jurors have to vote separately on each. It is possible they could convict one or two and acquit or hang on the rest.
A fourth man, 26-year-old Robert Allen, pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder and testified against his former friends.
XXXTentacion, whose real name was Jahseh Onfroy, had just left Riva Motorsports in suburban Fort Lauderdale with a friend when his BMW was blocked by an SUV that swerved in front.
Surveillance video showed that two masked gunmen emerged and confronted the 20-year-old rapper at the driver’s window, and one shot him repeatedly. They then grabbed a Louis Vuitton bag containing $50,000 that XXXTentacion had just withdrawn from the bank, got back into the SUV and sped away. The friend was not harmed.
Allen testified that the men set out that day to commit robberies and went to the motorcycle shop to buy Williams a mask. There they spotted the rapper and decided to make him their target. Allen and Williams went inside the shop to confirm it was him.
They then went back to the SUV they had rented, waited for XXXTentacion to emerge and ambushed him, according to testimony. Prosecutors say surveillance video from the dealership and cellphone data ties the men to the scene. They also showed jurors videos the men allegedly posted on social media that night of themselves flashing fistfuls of $100 bills.
The men’s attorneys said Allen is lying and that their DNA was not found on the artist. Attorneys for some of the men said that while the money-flashing videos were “stupid,” they don’t prove their clients were actually involved in the shooting and robbery.
The rapper, who pronounced his name “Ex ex ex ten-ta-see-YAWN,” was a platinum-selling rising star who tackled issues including prejudice and depression in his songs. He also drew criticism over bad behavior and multiple arrests, including charges that he severely beat and abused his girlfriend.
Terry Spencer, The Associated Press