An undercover cop who took the stand as a witness in the ongoing YNW Melly double murder trial says he’d prefer to wear a mask during YNW Melly’s trial as there is a $50,000 bounty on his head due to an unrelated case.
The prosecution did not raise the question of the defendant wearing the mask before the testimony, but when questioned by Judge John Murphy III, prosecutor Kristine Bradley said the witness, Detective Danny Polo, is an undercover cop with the Broward Sheriff’s Office and he has previously testified in the mask.
The court was recessed on Thursday morning as the defense objected to the witness wearing a balaclava mask with his eyes showing. According to the defense, the mask violates the Confrontation Clause and gravely prejudices Melly as a defendant in the eyes of the jury panel, which may impute that the rapper might be dangerous or may even have connections to whoever has threatened the detective.
Melly’s lead Attorney, David Howard, however, raised that allowing the detective in the mask is a violation of evidence rules for in-court testimony.
“Judge first of all, regarding that I would like to see the outfit he is going to wear to disguise himself. It’s a violation of the confrontation clause of the U.S constitution and the state without due respect should have filed a motion giving us notice of that,” he said.
The judge, however, clarified whether the detective gave his earlier testimony in the mask, which the prosecution confirmed.
His other attorney Jason Roger Williams also raised that the state had given him notice the evening before but did not file a motion and also that he wanted the judge to give directions to the jury to ensure that they do not link the threat to the detective by gang members in Florida as somehow tied to Melly.
The prosecution has already indicated that Melly has ties to the Bloods Gang. They intend to have evidence entered into the trial showing the rapper taking a gang oath two days before killing his best friends, YNW Juvy and YNW Sakchaser.
After a lengthy sidebar, Judge Murphy, however, allowed the detective to wear the mask to conceal his identity but issued a caution to the jury that they should listen and give due weight to the evidence as they would any other witness.
Meanwhile, the prosecution might have gained ground with a smoking gun after witness Kurt Rhodes, a DNA Analyst, testified that Melly’s DNA was not on a lot of evidence collected by the police, including a spent casing, a water bottle, or sandals, t-shirt, and a pair of Air Jordans which all had blood stains but it was found on the door handle of the grey SUV in which his friends were killed.
During his testimony on Wednesday, Rhodes revealed that a second test this month found the rapper’s DNA on the vehicle’s door handle. The DNA swabs were taken from the door handle of the rear driver seats and the front driver-side door handle.
However, the defense had a strong cross-examination of the witness, noting that prior evidence did show the rapper had entered the vehicle with his friends after he left a music studio, so it could be evidence from then and not at the time of death of the victims.
The DNA analyst was also questioned about the time of the first test in 2019 and again this month, which was not enough for conclusive evidence but is now suddenly conclusive.