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.
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 Slime Life.
After several defendants took plea deals or had their cases severed, the Grammy Award-winning rapper and five others are finally on trial.
The trial got off to a rocky start on Monday with a late juror delaying the trial start by an hour and a half followed by the defence filing a motion for a mistrial; the bid was denied. After two days of opening statements, the prosecution is expected to present evidence on Wednesday.
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Kelly Rissman29 November 2023 21:40
Update on an ever-delayed trial
Kelly Rissman29 November 2023 21:30
What has happened today at the YSL trial?
Detective Mark Belknap took the stand. He is a detective in the Atlanta Police Department’s gang unit.
Mr Belknap started the morning by discussing gangs generally and how he has identified them, like through tattoos, symbols, and other communications.
In the afternoon, the detective testified that YSL is a gang. He clarified that “Young Stoner Life” is not the same entity as “Young Slime Life.”
He also gave insight into YSL, saying it was founded in late 2012, has over 100 members and associates, who often wear red and green bandanas and use the abbreviation “SLATT,” which stands for “slime life all the time” and frequently post snake emojis on social media.
The defence has made a number of objections, frequently interrupting the witness, but most of them were not sustained.
Kelly Rissman29 November 2023 21:15
ICYMI: What Young Thug’s lawyer has said
The topic of the origins of YSL also came up. Mr Steel argued that “YSL” stemmed from the “YSL” logo on Yves Saint Laurent pants, coming in sharp contrast to the prosecution’s claim that YSL is a criminal enterprise that stands for “Young Slime Life.”
Mr Steel has also described the lyrics, a pressure point of this case, as being “art” and part of the rapper’s “freedom of speech.” Yesterday, Ms Love portrayed the lyrics as bearing “a very eerie significance to real life.”
Other lawyers made their opening remarks, telling the jurors that their clients were not guilty.
Kelly Rissman29 November 2023 21:00
ICYMI: What happened on Monday
The trial began nearly an hour and a half behind schedule because a juror was late.
The prosecutor, Adriane Love, was finally able to begin her opening statements — but was stopped a few times with objections. Defence attorney Brian Steel made three objections to her opening statement, all of which were sustained.
The trial then came to a screeching halt when the jury was asked to leave the room and the defence team said that Ms Love hadn’t provided certain Powerpoint slides, which she was presenting to the jury, to the defence ahead of the trial, prompting Mr Steel to motion for a mistrial. The motion was denied.
After the court returned from lunch, the judge snapped at attorneys from both sides for having “wasted two hours.”
Finally, Ms Love resumed her opening statement.
Kelly Rissman29 November 2023 20:45
Prosecutor Adriane Love asked the expert witness, “In your opinion, Young Slime Life is a criminal street gang?”
Detective Mark Belknap replied: Yes ma’am.
Kelly Rissman29 November 2023 20:30
YSL’s ties to other gangs, according to an expert witness
30 Deep gang was based in the Mechanicsville neighbourhood and consisted of over 100 members, according to the detective. This gang was affiliated with YSL, ROC, and Goodfellas gangs, Detective Belknap added.
He said 30 Deep was identifiable by its distinctive hand signs, red bandanas, graffiti, and tattoos.
Kelly Rissman29 November 2023 20:15
Detective discusses YSL identifiers
Mr 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 Rissman29 November 2023 20:00
Detective laid out roots of YSL
Detective Belknap described what he discovered about YSL:
- it was founded in late 2012
- it has over 100 members and associates
- many YSL members previously claimed to be members of ROC crew
- it used red and green bandanas
- “SLATT” [ slime life all the time] and snake emojis were often used by its members and assoicates
- its sometimes referred to the group as “Rudy Gang” after a member who died named Rudy
- a rivalry between Inglewood Family gang, which Donovan Thomas was allegedly a part of
- he said “Young Stoner Life” is not the same entity as “Young Slime Life”
Kelly Rissman29 November 2023 19:40
Who are the 28 codefendants?
- Kahlieff Adams A/K/A Bobby Hunt
- Martinez Arnold A/K/A Duke
- Derontae Bebee A/K/A Bee A/K/A B
- Damone Blalock A/K/A Bali
- Javaris Bradford A/K/A Tuda‘
- Justin Cobb A/K/A Duwap
- Cordarius Dorsey A/K/A Polo A/K/A Juicy
- Christian Eppinger A/K/A Bhris
- Miles Farley A/K/A Slato A/K/A Lil Miles
- Jevon Fleetwood A/K/A 4tray A/K/A Psycho
- Damekion Garlington A/K/A Dee A/K/A Sxarfaxe
- Quantavious Grier A/K/A Unfoonk
- Marquavius Huey A/K/A Qua
- Deamonte Kendrick A/K/A Yak Gotti
- Sergio Kitchens A/K/A Gunna
- W U Nnie Lee A/K/A Slimelife Shawty
- Demise Mcmullen A/K/A Nard
- Tenquarius Mender A/K/A Nard A/K/A Stunna
- Walter Murphy A/K/A Dk
- Jayden Myricka/K/A Settrip A/K/A Jayman
- Quamarvious Nichols A/K/A Qua
- Rodalius Ryan A/K/A Lil Rod
- Antonio Sledge A/K/A Mounk Tounk
- Trontavious Stephens A/K/A Tick A/K/A Slug
- Shannon Stillwell A/K/A Shannon Jackson A/K/A Sb
- Antonio Sumlin A/K/A Obama
- Jeffery Williamsa/K/A Young Thug A/K/A Slime
- Jimmy Winfrey A/K/A Roscoe
Kelly Rissman29 November 2023 19:30