YNW Melly was on the verge of a career breakthrough when, in February 2019, he was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder. The Florida rapper is currently in prison awaiting trial for the death of his fellow crew members Christopher Thomas Jr. (YNW Juvy) and Anthony Williams (YNW Sakchaser).
Some fans are curious about YNW Melly’s potential release date, but perhaps they are unaware of how serious the situation is. In April 2019, it was revealed that prosecutors want YNW Melly to face the death penalty if found guilty. And despite testing positive for COVID-19 in April 2020, his request for early release from prison was denied.
How did a promising, ambitious kid like Melly end up in this situation? Here are the details we have so far.
YNW Melly First Got His Start In Music At A Very Young Age
YNW Melly was born Jamell Maurice Demons on May 1, 1999, in Gifford, Florida. His mother, Jamie Demons-King, had him when she was 14. According to a 2018 documentary on his life, she has nothing but pride in her child’s success as a rapper, especially because his budding career allowed him to move away from their small town.
“Gifford, it can make you or break you,” said Demons-King.
Melly agreed. “Ain’t nobody ever made it outta there. Period,” he told The Fader in 2018. “We had one NFL player made it out, but he brought his ass right back. Lost souls out there… ’cept for the people I’m with.”
As a performer, Melly showed promise at an early age. He grew up idolizing Michael Jackson and mimicked his dance moves; by eighth grade, he had recorded his first song at a friend’s house using cheap jerry-rigged equipment. Melly began uploading songs to SoundCloud when he was 15, but unfortunately, his talent and braggadocios reputation sometimes attracted the wrong kind of attention.
“When you into fashion and dressing, people are gonna judge you and try to test you,” he said.
Melly was 16 when he was involved in a shootout near Vero Beach High School. He was charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of discharging a firearm in public. He spent several months in prison for the incident, but it was just one of many charges he would face over the next few years.
Jailtime turned out to be productive for Melly. It’s where he came up with “Murder on My Mind,” a 2017 SoundCloud single that was eventually certified Gold. The rapper told The Fader that he wanted to write songs that had depth. “A lot of different rappers, don’t get me wrong, they good at what they do,” he said. “Sometimes the music is too gangsta for me, though. I had to bring that feeling to where everyone can relate to it.”
The videos for Melly’s earliest singles have amassed over half a billion total views on YouTube. In 2018, his debut mixtape I am You nabbed a spot on the Billboard 200. Melly was jailed again in January 2019 for marijuana possession, but it didn’t stop his star from rising. His second mixtape, We All Shine, featured a collaboration with Kanye West and was released while he sat in a cell.
His 2019 debut studio album Melly vs. Melvin debuted at number 8 on the Billboard 200, but by then, he was already charged with the deaths of Thomas and Williams. A fourth member of their YNW (Young New Wave) crew, Cortlen Henry (YNW Bortlen), was also two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of accessory after the fact.
As Melly awaits his fate, many fans can’t ignore the lyrics to “Murder on my Mind.” Some misinterpret it as a disguised confession, but the song was written and released over a year before his friends were killed. “I didn’t even mean to shoot him, he just caught me by surprise / I reloaded my pistol, cocked it back, and shot him twice,” Melly raps on the track.
YNW Melly Is Now Facing Trial For The Murder Of Two Men
On October 26, 2018, Christopher Thomas Jr., 19, and Anthony Williams, 21—also known as YNW Juvy and YNW Sakchaser, respectively—were shot and killed in South Florida. In February 2019, Melly and Bortlen were arrested and charged with the crime.
“The investigation, supported by forensic evidence, has concluded that Demons shot and killed Williams & Thomas Jr. and that Demons and Henry staged the crime scene to resemble a drive-by shooting,” read a tweet by the Miramar Police Department.
Melly has maintained his innocence, tweeting, “They Took My Brothers From Me Over Jealousy I know y’all watching over me … and after, they wanna see me break down and stop or in jail or a box… till we meet again my slimes”
But things aren’t looking good for the rapper, despite the smile he wears in his mugshot. According to NYC hip-hop station Hot 97, the Broward County court system allegedly possesses an audio recording in which Melly confesses to the crime. Depending on the specifics, we suspect it won’t bode well for his case.
He has remained in jail for over two years. Meanwhile, in May 2020, his accomplice Bortlen was out on $90,000 bond and granted house arrest.
YNW Melly Death Rumors Surfaced Everywhere
Melly’s scandal made him ripe for hoaxes and conspiracy theories. In September 2020, a rumor that he was killed in jail went viral; rest in peace tweets quickly proliferated on social media. It wasn’t even the first time Melly was a victim of fake news. In December 2019, his mother appeared on Instagram to squash rumors that he had been murdered.
Melly is in fact alive and waiting for the start of his trial. He may have dodged death, but he did get hit with a health scare while in jail.
YNW Melly Tried To Get Released From Prison After Testing Positive For The Coronavirus
On April 2, Melly confirmed via Instagram that he had tested positive for COVD-19. As a result of the virus, his lawyer filed a motion for restricted release. The move followed news that rapper was granted a compassionate release on similar grounds (he did not contract coronavrius but was high risk due to asthma and bronchitis).
A judge denied the request, but added that Melly was entitled to request special medical treatment through the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The decision came as a relief to family members of the murder victims. In a report by the Miami Herald, Thomas’ family filed an objection to a conditional release. “While the victims sympathize with the alleged medical condition Mr. Demons faces, Mr. Demons presents a threat to the family, to society and cannot sufficiently be restricted if released,” it read.
YNW Melly Is Now Being Connected To The 2017 Death Of An Off-Duty Police Office
Melly’s problems snowballed in February 2019 when it was revealed that he and Henry were also potential suspects in a separate murder investigation. Vero News reported that the two men were “possibly linked to the shooting death of an off-duty deputy in Gifford.” The local Police Captain told the outlet that he intended to follow up with Melly and Henry because “they might be able to shed some light on the case.”
YNW Melly Is Facing The Death Penalty
In April, the State of Florida announced they would seek the death penalty if Melly was found guilty. Prosecutors believe they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the rapper murdered his friends for financial gain.
“The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, and he committed homicide in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner,” read court documents obtained by XXL.
Melly’s lawyer Jason Roger Williams told Billboard that his client will be proven innocent. “If it’s a truth finding process, we hope they will turn over everything early on in the case,” said Williams. “If they do, we feel that it’s going to be very supportive of innocence in this case.”
Melly is scheduled to appear at a status hearing on January 28, 2021. While it doesn’t mark the start of an official trial, prosecutors and attorneys will discuss the progress of the case.
This is a developing story, so stay tuned for updates.