The Death Qualified jury in the YNW Melly has sent a note that it is currently in a deadlock during deliberations and is unable to decide whether the rapper is innocent or guilty as each juror has stuck to their position.
The jury sent several notes to the judge asking to review other testimony and evidence presented by both the prosecution and defense, and as the day progressed, the jury hinted that there might be a deadlock. A deadlock means that the jurors are unable to reach a unanimous decision on whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
“What if we can’t come to a decision? Everyone is stuck on which side they’ve chosen,” Judge Murphy read out aloud the note sent from the foreperson.
Defense counsel David Howard requested that Judge Murphy read a modification of the Allen Charge to the jury and inquire about the Apple Watch, which one juror had despite directions that all electronics were to be locked away.
An Allen Charge is supplemental instructions given by the judge before a mistrial is declared based on jury deadlock. The procedure for this would require that the judge question the jury either individually or through its foreman about the possibility that its current deadlock could be overcome by further deliberations. Only after they are allowed to deliberate for a further period and if they still indicate a deadlock should a mistrial be declared.
Prosecutor Kristine Bradley read out the precedent for the Allen Charge. Judge Murphy also re-read the question from the foreperson, which read “what if,” meaning there is a possibility of deadlock.
In the meantime, it was decided by Judge Murphy that the Allen Charge reading would not be modified as it is a standard procedure that’s been around for “40/50” years.
If the jury comes back indicating that they are still in a deadlock, the judge will have to take steps to declare a mistrial. Defense attorney Howard insisted that sending back the jury to deliberate for a second time after they indicate a deadlock would be “an act of compulsion” and have constitutional implications for the defendant.
In the meantime, the jury was brought back into the courtroom, where Judge Murphy read the Allen Charge.
“There are two things that a jury can lawfully do: agree on a verdict and or disagree on what the facts of the case may truly be. There is nothing to disagree about on the law, the law is as I told you. If you have any disagreements on the law, I should clear them up for you now, that should be my problem, not yours,” Judge Murphy said.
“If you disagree on what the evidence show, then only can resolve that conflict, if it is to be resolved. I have only one request of you, by law I cannot demand this of you but I want you to go back to the jury room, then taking turns tell each of the other jurors of any weaknesses of your one position. You should not interrupt each other and comment on each other’s views until each of you have had a chance to talk. After you have done that and you simply cannot reach a verdict, return to the courtroom and I will declare this case a mistrial and discharge you with my sincere appreciation,” Judge Murphy read before instructing the jury to return to deliberate.
The jury was sequestered on Thursday afternoon following closing arguments from the prosecution and defense and after Judge John Murphy III read through instructions for them to follow in determining whether Jamell Demons, aka YNW Melly, is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of first-degree murder for his two best friends YNW Juvy and Sakchaser.
The jury was sequestered at a local hotel, so they will not have access to any material, thing, or person that might taint their verdict.
On Friday morning, YNW Melly appeared somber as he sat in court with his attorneys Stuart Adelstein and Raven Liberty, while prosecutors Kristine Bradley and Camille Smith were also in attendance.
The jury deliberated undisturbed for just over four hours, but around mid-morning into midday, a series of notes were sent to the judge. At first, they requested a call log for cell number 9807, which prosecutors say belongs to Melly, as well as prosecution witness and crime scene investigator Michael Kelly and Defense witness Traevon Glass’s testimony.
The jury was brought back into court, and the court stenographer read out the testimony of Traevon Glass, while the crime scene prosecutor’s testimony will be available for review later on.
The jury also requested the testimony of Cortlen Henry, but the defense and the prosecution agreed that it should be communicated that Henry did not testify in the trial.
Cortlen Henry, also called YNW Bortlen, is also charged with the murder of the two victims. He is accused of collaborating with YNW Melly to kill the victims and helping to frame their deaths as a drive-by shooting.
Only a statement from Henry claiming that he was driving home late when they were shot at by unknown persons he couldn’t see was entered into evidence by prosecutors.
The jury was excused and resumed deliberation, and later two other notes were sent, which included a query that a juror had on an Apple watch and another that they are rescinding the request to review the crime scene investigator Kelly’s testimony.
After questioning the jury about the Apple Watch, no member admitted to having such a device, and the court took a break again to allow the jury to deliberate.