After more than four years, the trial of the three men accused of killing up-and-coming Hip-Hop star XXXTentacion will begin on January 18 in Fort Lauderdale.
Michael Boatwright, Dedrick Williams, and Treyvon Newsome all face armed robbery and first-degree murder charges, as well as the possibility of a life sentence if they are convicted. They have pleaded not guilty. XXXTentacion, whose real name is Jahseh Onfroy, was killed in Fort Lauderdale on June 18, 2018, when masked gunmen shot his car after leaving a motorcycle shop. After shooting him, the gunmen took a bag containing $50,000 that he had just withdrawn from the bank.
The defendants’ attorneys have suggested in arguments made to the court that there were third parties who had motives for killing XXXTentacion. However, reports have indicated significant evidence linking the accused to the crime. It was reported that investigators found Boatwright’s fingerprints on the door of XXXTentacion’s BMW and that Williams’ girlfriend told investigators that he was one of the gunmen. Additionally, investigators have stated that mobile phone data places the defendants at the murder scene. Boatwright and Newsome’s phones were found to contain pictures showing large amounts of $100 bills taken on the night of the murder.
Additionally, a fourth man implicated in the murder, Robert Allen, previously pled guilty to second-degree murder and is expected to testify against the other three men at the trial.
The defendants’ attorneys seemingly have their work cut out for them at this trial. Under Florida law, first-degree murder is committed when a person commits a “premeditated murder” – meaning pursuant to a pre-planned act or scheme – or “felony murder,” meaning committed while also engaged in committing a felony, such as robbery. From a sentencing standpoint, the difference between first-degree murder and second-degree murder is that first-degree murder requires a mandatory life sentence without parole. In contrast, second-degree murder requires a minimum 16.75-year sentence. Still, it may be increased up to a life sentence (if a person uses a firearm to commit second-degree murder, then their mandatory minimum is raised to 25 years). Although first-degree murder may carry a death sentence, it is not pursued by the prosecution in these cases.
The jury is expected to take three weeks, and the trial will last into March.
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