YNW Melly’s lawyers urge judge to throw out rapper’s double murder case. Here’s why

YNW Melly’s defense team is asking the judge to dismiss the rapper’s double murder case on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct, according to a court filing.

The defense on Tuesday asked Broward Circuit Court Judge John Murphy to throw out the case and accused prosecutor Kristine Bradley of a Brady violation, or concealing information favorable to the defense, for allegedly not divulging details about an investigation into Miramar Police Detective Mark Moretti.

“Because this withholding of evidence was not only institutional, but deliberate prosecutor misconduct, double jeopardy principles apply and the case must be dismissed,” the filing says.

Under Florida law, prosecutors are required to disclose any information that may be favorable to the defense. The discovery of Brady violations, in some cases, have even led to overturned convictions.

The supposed wrongdoing stems from the defense learning in late August that Moretti, the lead detective in the case, was under investigation for an incident involving excessive use of force against a potential witness.

READ MORE: Lead detective in YNW Melly case under investigation, defense says. What to know so far

In late August, Miramar Police spokesperson Tania Rues told the Miami Herald that Moretti wasn’t under investigation but instead had a complaint made against him.

“Our office is looking into the complaint, as we do with all complaints,” Rues said in an email at the time.

Bradley, in a court filing, on Saturday disclosed more information related to the inquiry into Moretti.

Bradley said that Moretti was taking a statement from Jamie King, Melly’s mother, in a conference room on the seventh floor of the Broward courthouse. Prosecutor Michelle Boutros, King’s attorney Robert Trachman and Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jason Hendrick were present at the time.

Asst. State Attorney Kristine Bradley motions towards the defendant as she gives her closing argument in the trial of Jamell Demons, better known as rapper YNW Melly, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, July 20, 2023. Demons, 22, is accused of killing two fellow rappers and conspiring to make it look like a drive-by shooting in October 2018. (Amy Beth Bennett / South Florida Sun Sentinel)

At some point, Hendrick stepped out, and Moretti executed a search warrant for King’s phone, according to Bradley’s filing.

Shortly after, BSO deputy Adam Gorel arrived at the conference room.

Moretti, according to prosecutor Boutros, then told Gorel that he should say he was present when he executed the search warrant.

Moretti later asked Gorel if he was there when the phone was taken, and Gorel said something along the lines of, “I can be if you needed me to be.”

According to a filing made Tuesday by Christopher Killoran, a prosecutor with the Public Corruption Unit, Moretti told Bradley that the statement he made to Gorel — and Gorel’s response — were just jokes.

What’s the defense saying?

According to Melly’s lawyers, the state was tight-lipped about information related to Moretti’s alleged wrongdoing since Oct. 12, 2022. The first time they heard about this was in late August.

“Rather than presenting this to the defense, so that the defense could have used it in the first trial, the State withheld this information,” the filing says. “In fact, it is believed the highest levels of the State Attorney’s Office made determinations to not provide it to the defense, and secondly, not to purse the internal affairs investigation.”

At a hearing last week, defense attorney Stuart Adelstein asked Bradley about the status of the investigation, according to the court filing.

Bradley told him it was closed, and no wrongdoing was found. They also asked for Boutros’ sworn statement, and Bradley said she didn’t have it, according to the filing.

Jamell Demons, center, better known as rapper YNW Melly, stands with defense attorneys Raven Ramona Liberty and Stuart Adelstein as the jury enters the room to hear a witness’s testimony read back in his trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, July 21, 2023. Demons, 22, is accused of killing two fellow rappers and conspiring to make it look like a drive-by shooting in October 2018. (Amy Beth Bennett / South Florida Sun Sentinel)

In the filing, Melly’s legal team also claims that Bradley had copies of the statement and the internal affairs investigation.

The defense argued that the state didn’t share the information before the first trial to “gain a tactical advantage.” If they had known about the incident, they could’ve questioned Moretti on the stand about his willingness “to conspire with Deputy Gorel to obstruct justice and to create false filings.”

“[The state] allowed one trial to go by while concealing this evidence,” the filing says. “Obviously, they were planning on allowing another trial to go by without revealing this information.”

Melly, 24, whose real name is Jamell Demons, is accused of gunning down his childhood friends Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr. in an alleged drive-by after spending the night of Oct. 26, 2018, at a Fort Lauderdale recording studio. Williams and Thomas, both aspiring rappers with the YNW collective, were known as YNW Sakchaser and YNW Juvy, respectively.

He’s among the first defendants to go to trial after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law to lower the threshold for a death sentence to an 8-4 jury vote, from the previous requirement for a unanimous vote.