Hip Hop

Young Dolph’s Murder Suspects Makes First Court Appearance In Memphis: Watch

Justin Johnson and Cornelius Smith
Mugshots of Justin Johnson, Cornelius Smith

The two suspects charged for the murder of Memphis rapper Young Dolph in November 2021 made their first court appearance before a judge in a Memphis court.

The murder suspects, Justin Johnson, 23, and Cornelius Smith, 32, were arraigned on Wednesday morning. A video of their appearance shows the two suspects in red outfits being led into the court while handcuffed and wearing face masks.

At the arraignment, the charge is read to Smith and Johnson separately by the judge, who notes that the offense of first-degree murder carries life imprisonment without parole or the state of Tennessee could seek the death penalty. He is also facing charges for criminal attempt to commit a felony which carries 15-60 years of imprisonment, while possession of a firearm carries 8-30 years in jail, employing the use of a firearm in murder carries 3-16 years in prison, and theft of property carries 3-15 years in jail.

When asked if he had an attorney, Smith was unable to provide information on an attorney but said that his family was in the process of engaging an attorney and expects to retain counsel within a week.

Johnson also said his family is hiring an attorney, and when asked if he cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed, both suspects say they can afford their attorneys.

The judge ordered the suspects be brought back to court on January 28 to see if they’d hired an attorney by then.

“This judge wants to make sure these defendants have an attorney sooner rather than later,” prosecutor Paul Hagerman told Fox News after the arraignment hearing. “Memphis wants some closure to this thing, and family and media, too.”

Johnson, who goes by the rap name Straight Drop and Smith, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, being convicted felon in possession of a firearm, employment of a firearm during a dangerous felony, and theft of property over $10,000.

READ: Young Dolph’s Brother Also Targeted By Murder Suspects, Says Feds

Smith and Johnson, who both appeared emotionless as they spoke to the judge, are being held without bond.

Johnson, who was previously named a person of interest in Young Dolph’s murder, was captured in Indiana with another man who has been charged with accessory to murder after the fact.

While being wanted, Johnson teased and released new music on Instagram despite telling police he would turn himself in on January 10, 2021. He was captured the next day in a car police say he carjacked.

The third suspect accused as an accessory Shundale Barnett is still in custody in Indiana.

Young Dolph, whose real name was Adolph Thornton Jr., was killed by two suspects on Nov. 17 at a cookie shop in South Memphis.