Suspects in rapper XXXTentacion’s death stand trial

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – More than four years after gunmen killed rising rap star XXXTentacion in a robbery outside a South Florida motorcycle shop, three suspects are scheduled to face trial on Wednesday when jury selection begins.

Shooting suspect Michael Boatwright, 28, and his accused accomplices Dedrick Williams, 26, and Trayvon Newsome, 24, could all face life sentences if convicted of first-degree murder. They are also charged with armed robbery. You have pleaded not guilty.

A fourth man, Robert Allen, 26, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last year and is expected to testify against the other three. Jury selection is expected to take three weeks, with the opening speech tentatively scheduled for January 30th. The process is expected to last until March.

In the pre-trial hearings, the defendants’ attorneys have suggested that there were others who had financial and personal motives for the singer’s killing, including members of his family and other rappers.

“It took over four long years to work on it. We’re excited to take this first step in bringing Dedrick home,” said Mauricio Padilla, Williams’ attorney. Boatwright and Newsome’s attorneys did not respond to emails seeking comment. The COVID-19 pandemic and litigation delayed the start of the trial.

District Judge Michael Usan last week dismissed an attempt by Boatwright’s attorney, Joseph Kimok, to have him declared mentally incompetent to stand trial. He also rejected a request by the defendants’ lawyers that the three be tried separately.

They argued that evidence presented against only one accused would harm the other two. They also argued that any defense attorney could try to prove his client’s innocence or mitigate his guilt by pointing the finger at the other two suspects – they argued that doing so would have unfairly biased the jury against the trio. Prosecutor Pascale Achille told Usan that all evidence presented relates to all three.

Usan ruled that defense attorneys’ arguments could apply in any trial where there are multiple defendants, but in this case they do not outweigh the “legal economy’s” need not to hold three trials unless absolutely necessary.

XXXTentacion. real name Jahseh Onfroy, had just left Riva Motorsports with a friend on June 18, 2018 in suburban Fort Lauderdale when his BMW was blocked by a preceding SUV. Two masked gunmen showed up, confronted XXXTentacion at the driver’s window and one shot him. They then grabbed a Louis Vuitton bag containing $50,000 in cash that the singer had just withdrawn from the bank, got back in the SUV, and sped away.

XXXTentacion, 20, died in hospital shortly after. Pronouncing his name “Ex ex ex ten-ta-see-YAWN,” he was a platinum-selling rising star whose songs explored themes of prejudice and depression. He also drew criticism for bad behavior and multiple arrests, including charges against him of severely beating and abusing his girlfriend.

Investigators say surveillance video from the store and other evidence connect the three defendants and Allen to the murder.

They say the video shows the SUV arriving at the motorcycle shop just as XXXTentacion and his friend entered. Williams and Allen followed them in, with Williams doing a little shopping. Then they went back to the SUV. About 10 minutes later, XXXTentacion and his friend tried to leave, but the SUV blocked them. Prosecutors say Boatwright and Newsome were the gunmen who confronted the rapper, with Boatwright firing the fatal shots.

Investigators say Boatwright’s fingerprints were found on the driver’s door of the rapper’s BMW. Williams was identified by a Riva Motorsports employee who said he was a regular customer. Williams told investigators he didn’t know the other three were planning a robbery.

A search of Williams’ social media showed photos of him with Allen, who was then identified from the surveillance video. William’s girlfriend told investigators he told her the other gunman was Newsome.

They say cellphone data also links the suspects to the crime scene.

Photos of Boatwright and Newsome holding up large amounts of $100 bills that were time-stamped the night of the murder were also found on their cellphones, according to prosecutors.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. Suspects in rapper XXXTentacion’s death stand trial

Sarah Y. Kim

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