A Florida Appeals Court has given the green light to an application by prosecutors for them to seek the death penalty should YNW Melly be convicted of murder.
The rapper is on trial for the murder of two of his associates, and the prosecution has secured a short victory ahead of his murder trial set to start soon. The Appeals Court decision overturned a lower court ruling that favored Melly and had prescribed that prosecutors couldn’t seek capital punishment on a possible conviction because they failed to properly notify him and his lawyers according to state law.
On Wednesday, the District Court of Appeal found that prosecutors did give notice that they might seek death if Melly is convicted.
Melly’s team had first filed for the lower court to make a determination that the prosecution failed to adhere to the rule that defendants facing first-degree murder charges must be told of the possibility of facing execution.
Florida laws require that notice is given 45 days after arraignment if the prosecution plans to seek capital punishment. Melly’s lawyer argues that prosecutors did file a notice of indictment in 2019 within the stipulated timeframe. However, a superseding indictment was later filed, but the prosecution did not again file another notice.
However, the Appeals court ruled that there was no material difference in Melly’s case as to whether the notice he received was effective when he was first indicted.
“We find that the state complied with its statutory obligations when it filed its notice of intent to seek the death penalty within 45 days of arraignment,” presiding Judge Spencer D. Levine said.
“The fact that the state filed a superseding indictment, requiring a second arraignment, does not vitiate the already filed and timely notice of intent. Notice is notice.”
It continued, “Clearly, in the present case, the defendant was noticed and apprised of the state seeking the death penalty in 2019. The defendant has had nearly three years to start the preparation of his defence to the state seeking the death penalty [and] the record contains no evidence that the defendant was prejudiced in any way.”
YNW Melly’s attorney Philip R. Horowitz reportedly said that his team and Melly were disappointed with the position of the appeals court.
YNW Melly is on trial for first-degree murder charges along with co-accused YNW Bortlen. They are accused of shooting and killing their friends Christopher “YNW Juvy” Thomas Jr. and Anthony “YNW Sakchaser” Williams in 2018 and setting up the crime scene as a drive-by shooting.
Melly’s trial has been delayed for months now, and the rapper had been implicated in what police said was a daring plan by him and his cellmate to escape from jail in recent weeks.
His trial has been pushed back twice from April to July and again with the application to the court seeking the death penalty.
In the meantime, Horowitz says that YNW Melly will appeal the decision at a higher court.