Young Thug and five co-defendants faced opening statements in the YSL RICO trial on Monday, Nov. 27. In an eyebrow-raising moment, the state prosecutor referred to YSL members as animals, calling Thug “the leader of the wolfpack.”
Jeffrey “Young Thug” Williams, his five co-defendants, Judge Glanville, and a diverse jury where enpaneled on Day 1 of what is expected to be a high-stakes courtroom showdown. Infamous Sylvia, who has covered the courtroom action since proceedings began, provided first-hand accounts to SOHH.
The families of the accused were in attendance, along with record executive Kevin Liles, and Thug’s girlfriend, Mariah The Scientist. The “Spread Thin” singer has shown support throughout the YSL case since Thugger was initially indicted on RICO charges. She has publicly worn “Free Thugger” T-shirts at her concerts and broadcast displays that state “Free YSL.”
Kevin Liles testified to Young Thug’s character during early hearings, telling the court “I’m willing to back him personally and professionally.” He spoke to Infamous Sylvia about the racial biases present in the state’s prosecution. Comparing the treatment of rap artists with that of rock artists, he said “if this were rockstars on trial, we wouldn’t be here.”
The prosecution aimed to paint the narrative that YSL is a criminal organization, with Young Thug as its leader. The state has prepared a case with song lyrics as evidence along with testimony by over 200 witnesses.
State prosecutor Adriane Love opened with a shaky start. Defense attorneys immediately pointed out misleading and inaccurate information in her presentation.
The defense also raised complaints about the prosecution’s failure to submit required documents for the opening statements. This led to a motion for a mistrial which the judge denied. The prosecution was given additional time to submit the documents, causing a delay in the proceedings.
In an inflammatory moment in her presentation, Love referred to Young Thug as “the leader of the wolf pack,” seeking to tie him to various crimes allegedly committed by YSL members. Young Thug, visibly offended, maintained a stoic demeanor as Love made a derogatory reference to Disney’s The Jungle Book.
Maxwell Shardt, Esq. the attorney for defendant Shannon Stillwell, presented his opening statements in the afternoon on Day 1. He defended Stillwell, who was accused of murdering a rival. Shardt suggested that witnesses who testified against Stillwell were felons motivated to have their own sentences reduced.
Shardt admitted that Stillwell was guilty of selling drugs but that he was not a murderer. He painted the picture of Stillwell as a victim who grew up in poverty who was forced into a lifestyle of crime to survive.
Among the co-defendants, Rodalius Ryan’s case is being reviewed by an appeals court, where a witness has disputed his involvement with YSL. Marquavius Huey has been charged with theft, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm and other criminal activities.
Diamonte Kendrick, known as Yak Gotti, faces pending murder charges while already serving time for a separate case. Shannon Stillwell, considered a “top commander” for YSL, is also being charged with murders. Quantavious Nichols, charged with murder as well, allegedly participated in a shooting alongside Stillwell.
Young Thug is charged with leading the alleged criminal organization. The prosecution intends to present song lyrics as evidence to support their claims that he is the head of the racketeering group.
Judge Glanville said he would allow the lyrics to be used “conditionally” after prosecutors argued a motion on Nov. 8, in the Fulton County Courtroom. Prosecutors argued that lyrical evidence would prove that YSL is an organized criminal enterprise engaged in violent crime with Young Thug at the helm.
Prosecutors presented a deck containing seventeen (17) song lyrics referencing acts of violence, criminal activities, and allegiance to their crew.
Songs like “BAD BOYS,” featuring Juice WRLD and Young Thug are being used as lyrical evidence against YSL to show the nature of the activities of the criminal enterprise. Lyrics are also being presented to imply Young Thug’s involvement as the leader. In the song “Who” with Future and Young Thug, he raps:
“I’m at the top with bro though. Ooh, head honcho, hold up, kick in your mom door, shoot with the .44.”
These lyrics potentially implicate Young Thug as the leader of the alleged “YSL Gang” and suggest a willingness to engage in violent acts.
Young Thug has been imprisoned since May 2022 when he and fellow rapper Gunna were two of 28 people indicted in Georgia on conspiracy to violate the RICO Act.
The YSL members were named in a RICO indictment for murder, assault, robbery, and more. According to media reports, locals say the crackdown was a long time coming.
In August 2022, District Attorney Fanni Wllis, who was presiding over Young Thug and Gunna’s case, stated her intention to use lyrics in their criminal case. Gunna finally went home after being released from Fulton County Jail on Dec. 14. His sentence was commuted to time served following his guilty plea in the RICO case.
Over the following fifteen months, 22 defendants would be released or plead out of the case.
In a separate case, rapper YNW Melly’s retrial in a double murder case has been pushed to February 2024. This comes after a request from prosecutors, delaying the opening arguments.
Kynedei Iman Hobbs is a recent college graduate from the renowned Prairie View A&M University, with a major in Mass Communications. She possesses a deep passion for both News and Entertainment and aspires to excel as an exceptional Entertainment News Reporter, Writer, and Personality. With her sights set on greatness, she is driven to make a significant impact in the field.