"He knew what the charges were pending against him and he still chose to self-surrender," Melly's attorney Bradford Cohen said in court documents

By Robyn Merrett
June 01, 2019 12:45 PM
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Credit: YNW Melly/Instagram

Rapper YNW Melly wants to be released from jail on bond as he awaits trial for the double murder of his two friends.

On Thursday the 20-year-old rapper’s attorney Bradford Cohen filed a motion to grant bond with the Broward County Court, explaining his client should be freed because he turned himself in.

“He knew what the charges were pending against him and he still chose to self-surrender,” Cohen wrote in the court documents obtained by both Treasure Coast Newspapers and Complex.

Cohen also argues that Melly, whose real name is Jamell Demons, has “never purposefully missed a court date” and is not a flight risk, according to the court documents.

He also points out that Melly “has lived in the area for almost his entire life and all of his immediate family members live in the area.”

In addition, Cohen says there is “very little actual evidence,” against Melly and no real witnesses.

Cohen tells PEOPLE “the lack of evidence” is “the biggest aspect. The fact that they have little to no evidence aside from the allegation he was in the car at the time of the incident. Other than that, there is no evidence he was the one responsible for the deaths of his best friends.”

It is not immediately clear if Melly will be granted a bond hearing.

YNW Melly
| Credit: Broward County Sheriff's Office/AP/Shutterstock

Melly, who is best known for his song “Murder on My Mind” and his recent collaboration with Kanye West on the track “Mixed Personalities,” has been held at the Broward County Jail without bond since his arrest in February. He is facing the death penalty if convicted.

In April, the State of Florida announced its decision to seek capital punishment against Melly because prosecutors believe they can prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Melly murdered aspiring rappers Anthony Williams, 21, and Christopher Thomas Jr., 19, for “financial gain,” according to court documents obtained by XXL magazine.

“The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, and he committed homicide in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner,” the court documents state.

Florida is one of the 30 states where capital punishment is legal.

Melly allegedly shot Williams and Thomas Jr. on Oct. 26 in Fort Lauderdale.

Melly — allegedly with the help of another rapper identified as Cortlen Henry aka YNW Bortlen — covered up the murder by making it look as if it was a drive-by shooting, Miramar Police alleged in a statement shared on Twitter.

The victims were then allegedly driven to Memorial Hospital Miramar by Henry, 26, in a Jeep Compass at around 4:35 a.m., Sun-Sentinel reported.

Williams and Thomas were both pronounced dead at the hospital.

Williams was also known as YNW Sakchaser and Thomas was known as YNW Juvy. Both rappers were featured on a documentary about Melly posted on Melly’s YouTube page.

According to documents obtained by Complex and TMZ, Melly’s booking report out of Miramar, Florida says that Henry drove to an emergency room in the early morning hours asking for help for two friends in his car, claiming they had been shot in a drive-by.

Henry told police he and the two victims had just wrapped a late-night studio session when a car pulled up on his driver’s side and opened fire as he was pulling off the freeway, TMZ reported. Cops confirmed there were eight bullet holes along the right side of the vehicle where Williams and Thomas Jr. sat, and Henry escaped injury.

Cops found a shell casing inside Henry’s vehicle, along with eight matching shell casings in a different location, where they think Melly and Henry shot the car to make it look like a drive-by, according to TMZ, who also reports that cops believe that the initial shot was fired from inside the car on the left rear passenger side. After reviewing surveillance footage, cops were able to determine that Melly had been sitting on the left rear passenger side of the car.

“Evidence from the autopsy revealed that both victims’ wound paths to their heads were from a left to right direction. This directly contradicts the statements made by Henry and do not support the statements of a drive-by shooting that occurred on the right side of the vehicle,” Complex quotes the court documents as saying.

Additionally, the outlet reports that the police allege Melly and Henry drove around with the bodies of Williams and Thomas Jr. after they had been shot “for a period of time” before driving to the hospital. Henry later told police that Melly was, in fact, in the same car with them but eventually got into another vehicle.

On Feb. 13, Melly, revealed on Instagram that he would be turning himself in to authorities.

“To all my fans and supporters… I am turning my self in today,” Melly wrote.

“I want you guys to know I love you and appreciate every single one of y’all, a couple months ago I lost two brothers by violence and now the system want[s] to find justice… unfortunately a lot of rumors and lies are being said but no worries god is with me and my brother @ynw.bortlen and we want y’all to remember it’s a ynw family.”

Melly concluded the post by saying “I love you” to Williams and Thomas Jr.

Henry was arrested in January in Houston and was extradited to Broward.

Just after the murder, Cohen said, according to the Sun-Sentinel, the rapper is “sad, he’s upset, obviously.”

“Those are his best friends,” Cohen said.

In March, Melly and Henry pleaded not guilty to charges in connection with the case, Billboard reported.

At this time, it is not certain that prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Henry, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Cohen previously told PEOPLE “We disagree with the assertions made in the notice and look forward to disapproving the charges.”