The Young Thug RICO Trial in Atlanta: Latest Updates and News

2023-12-01 14:52:01

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The hotly-anticipated trial of the rapper Young Thug is underway in a courtroom in Atlanta, Georgia, following almost a year of delays.

In May 2022, Young Thug, real name Jeffery Williams, was arrested and charged in a sprawling RICO indictment along with 27 other defendants.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis – who is using the same law to prosecute Donald Trump in his Georgia election interference case – accused the suspects of being part of a criminal street gang named YSL or “Young Slime Life.”

According to prosecutors, the gang is responsible for a series of violent crimes, including murders, shootings, carjackings and racketeering.

Young Thug has denied the accusations and insisted that YSL is simply Young Thug’s record label – Young Stoner Life.

After several defendants took plea deals or had their cases severed, the Grammy Award-winning rapper and five others are finally on trial.

Awkwardness erupted after the second witness to testify on Tuesday, Captain Pettis, said that he saw a group of men flashing gang hand signs, and later admitted during cross-examination that he had “no idea” what the signs meant.

Key points

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ICYMI: After jurors were caught on camera, the trial went on

Rapper Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, has spent the week in court in Fulton County, Georgia, fighting gang and racketeering charges in connection with what prosecutors say is a violent street gang he co-founded called Young Slime Life (YSL).

During the third day of the trial on Wednesday, a camera mistakenly panned across the jury panel as a witness made their way to the stand to testify. Screenshots of the footage, in which parts of at least two of the jurors’ faces are shown, inevitably spread like wildfire online.

The incident prompted a lengthy delay of proceedings along with fears that a mistrial would ensue — after a grueling 11 months of jury selection, no less. But that didn’t happen.

Instead, Judge Ural Glanville instructed members of the media in the courtroom to stop filming the expert witness, an Atlanta Police detective, “due to some security issues” relating to the “inadvertent recording of some of our jurors in the front row.”

Kelly Rissman1 December 2023 14:52

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YSL is Young Thug’s own record label – Young Slime Life. Artists on his record label are considered part of the “Slime Family,” and a compilation album, “Slime Language 2,” rose to number one on the US charts in April 2021.

Its artists include Gunna and Lil Keed, though several contemporary artists, including Future, Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, Lil Baby, and Travis Scott have also expressed allegiance to YSL without being contractually signed.

However, according to prosecutors, YSL is actually a “criminal street gang”, which started out in the Cleveland Avenue area of Atlanta and claims affiliation to the national Bloods gang.

According to a sprawling 88-page indictment, the members of YSL use “a variety of identifiers including colours, clothing, tattoos, and hand signs” to show their allegiance to the group.

The most predominant colours used by members of YSL are red for Bloods and green for Slime.

Defence attorneys meanwhile insist that YSL is just a music label.

Kelly Rissman1 December 2023 13:00

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No fingerprints on the gun that Young Thug is accused of stealing

Kelly Rissman1 December 2023 11:00

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Trial jurors were exposed on video but the case is continuing anyway

At the start of Thursday’s proceedings, Judge Glanville opened by reminding the media: “Please make sure that you do not take any photos…of any of our jurors. We had a problem with that yesterday.” He acknowledged that yesterday’s incident “wasn’t intentional.”

Not long after the first witness of the day was called up to the stand, the court broke for recess and attorneys met with the judge privately.

Both parties returned to their seats and the judge then said, “I believe that we’ve addressed that issue yesterday with the request to be more mindful of the placement of cameras.”

But a prosecutor stood up, pointing out that after talking to the media in court last night, “the state has been made aware that this particular post has been shared a number of times and it is of concern for the integrity of this case.”

Kelly Rissman1 December 2023 09:00

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Who testified on Thursday?

The prosecution called up six witnesses to testify — only one of them was shown on camera, likely as a precautionary measure following the slip up when the camera showed the jurors yesterday.

Mellissa Rosser is a “house mom” of an adult entertainment club. She testified about a carjacking incident in 2013.Capt Reginald Pettis, of the APD, also testified about the same incident and the OnStar system that tracked the stolen vehicle to an apartment complex that he monitored.Sgt Jonathan Heeb is discussing an August 2013 incident involving Mr Stillwell and “the green store.”Lt Scott Jimenez also testified about the incident.Andrew Phillips testified about goods — a laptop, two guns and a blanket — that were stolen from his home; Mr Williams aka Young Thug is accused of committing the theft in the indictment. He has pleaded not guilty.Senior Patrol Officer Michael Monheim testified about the arrest of someone named Jeffery Williams.

Kelly Rissman1 December 2023 07:00

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Trial terms: What is a ‘studio gangster’?

Detective Belknap said the term is used when someone “takes on the persona” of being violent when entering the studio, but may not be in real life.

He said calling someone that is a “slur” and a “huge sign of disrespect” to those actually involved in a criminal gang.

Kelly Rissman1 December 2023 05:00

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Detective discussed YSL identifiers

In court on Wednesday, Detective Belknap discussed some identifiers often associated with YSL, which he called a street gang.

He described a hand sign that depicts the letters Y, S, and L with fingers. The detective also talked about another hand sign in which one’s index finger sits under one’s nose.

He also said certain tattoos and clothes, like a hoodie or a hat that includes “Slime” on it.

The word “SLATT,” which apparently stands for “slime life all the time,” is often seen in graffiti and tattoos.

Kelly Rissman1 December 2023 04:00

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What’s happened in the YSL trial so far?

The highly anticipated Young Thug trial got off to a slow and rocky start — consistent with a pretrial process, as jury selection took nearly 11 months to complete.

The prosecution portrayed the rapper as the “head” of the so-called “criminal street gang” YSL (Young Slime Life), and used lyrics in its opening statement to support its case, but not without many delays and a fiery Judge Ural Glanville, who seemed upset with both sides on Monday.

The rapper, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, and 27 other defendants have been charged in a sweeping 65-count indictment. Mr Williams has been charged with eight counts, including possession of a firearm while committing a felony and possession of a machine gun. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

All defendants have been charged with racketeering. Prosecutors say YSL is a gang; the defence insists it is just a record label.

The trial began nearly an hour and a half behind schedule because a juror was late.

Kelly Rissman1 December 2023 03:00

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What are the charges against YSL members?

The YSL members named in the indictment are charged with conspiracy to violate Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

The act is similar to its federal counterpart, which is used to convict large-scale organisations such as the mafia.

According to the indictment, associates of YSL “conspired to associate together and with others for the common purposes of illegally obtaining money and property through a pattern of racketeering activity”.

It claims that YSL members were involved in murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, theft, drug dealing, carjacking, and witness intimidation.

Other activities include “the posting of messages, images, videos and songs, demonstrating allegiance to the enterprise and willingness to engage in violence on its behalf”.

Prosecutors claim they can show that some of the group’s lyrics are related to crimes that they are accused of committing.

Through these activities and more the gang aimed to “preserve, protect, and enhance the reputation, power and territory” of the enterprise, prosecutors said.

Kelly Rissman1 December 2023 02:00

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Thursday’s court drama after jurors were captured on camera

Not long after the first witness of the day was called up to the stand, the court broke for recess and attorneys met with the judge privately.

Both parties returned to their seats and the judge then said, “I believe that we’ve addressed that issue yesterday with the request to be more mindful of the placement of cameras.”

But a prosecutor stood up, pointing out that after talking to the media in court last night, “the state has been made aware that this particular post has been shared a number of times and it is of concern for the integrity of this case.”

“That’s in your pleas,” Judge Glanville said, adding, “If you make it an issue, then I think you draw attention when you may not necessarily need to.”

“It’s very possible” that jurors may have been contacted by family members or friends that “may impair their ability to be fair,” the prosecutor continued.

Kelly Rissman1 December 2023 01:00

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