Thu. May 12th, 2022

Rap artist Jamell Demons (YNW Melly), along with Cortlen Henry (YNW Bortlen), allegedly shot and killed Anthony Williams (YNW Sakchaser) and Christopher Thomas Jr. (YNW Juvy) on October 26th, 2018, in Broward County, Florida. According to prosecutors, Jamell shot the two victims from inside of the vehicle before Cortlen and Jamell shot up the vehicle with the victims inside to stage a drive-by shooting. Jamell Demons is currently facing the death penalty and will likely go to trial May 23, 2022.  

Background

Jamell Demons, also known as YNW Melly, is an American rapper. His mother became pregnant with him at 14 years old and gave birth in 9th grade. Jamell was raised in an impoverished area of Gifford, Florida, with his single mother struggling to provide basic necessities. He joined the Bloods gang at a young age. Jamell has claimed that he started carrying firearms in the 4th grade after becoming fascinated with them when he found a gun under his couch as a child. Additionally, Jamell has told interviewers that he has been involuntarily put on a psychiatric hold 4 times, locally called “Baker Acted”. He has stated that he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and ADHD.

Rising young rapper YNW Melly charged in double homicide of friends | Daily  Mail Online
Jamell Demons

At the age of 15 Jamell started posting songs onto SoundCloud, many of which feature the topic of “multiple personality disorder”, formally called dissociative identity disorder, which Jamell claims to have. In 2015 Jamell adopted the name YNW Melly, with YNW being a rap collective of Jamell, Cortlen Henry (YNW Bortlen), Anthony Williams (YNW Sakchaser), and Christopher Thomas Jr. (YNW Juvy).

In October of 2015, Jamell was convicted of aggravated battery, discharging a firearm in public, and two counts of aggravated assault in October 2015 after shooting at students at Vero Beach High School.  For this shooting, Jamell spent a year in jail before being released on probation. Jamell violated his probation in 2017 and spent several months in jail. He is also a suspect in the shooting of an off duty Indian River County deputy named Gary Chambliss. In January of 2019, he was arrested for possession of marijuana.

Cortlen Henry Arrives at Hospital with Two Gunshot Wound Victims

Rappers YNW Juvy and YNW Sakchaser shot and killed in South Florida
Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr.

On October 26th, 2018, at 4:35 A.M., Cortlen Henry, also known as YNW Bortlen, arrived at Memorial Miramar Hospital’s emergency room seeking care for two passengers in his 2018 Jeep Compass who were shot multiple times. A police officer working as part of the security detail at the hospital went out of the hospital and encountered the vehicle first in the parking lot and then summoned medical staff to remove the two passengers who were unconscious with multiple gunshot wounds. 8 obvious projectile entry points were seen on the right-side exterior of the Jeep with one on the rear lift gate. Anthony Williams, aka YNW Sakchaser, had gunshot wounds to his head, neck, and torso. Christopher Thomas Jr., aka YNW Juvy, had gunshot wounds to his back and head. They were both pronounced deceased by medical staff at the hospital.

Cortlen Henry’s Statements Immediately After Shooting

When questioned at the hospital, Cortlen Henry stated that he left a recording studio in Fort Lauderdale with the two victims in his vehicle. He said that he drove from I-595 to I-75 to Miramar Pkwy heading west then just past SW 160th Avenue (also known as Dykes Road), his vehicle got targeted by a drive by shooter. Cortlen stated that a vehicle pulled next to him and started shooting and that he lowered his body in a protective posture and got onto the floorboards. When he sat back up upright, he saw that his two friends were shot and drove directly to the hospital.   

Cortlen Henry, YNW Melly both pleaded not guilty in Florida murder case
Cortlen Henry

Later, a detective and Cortlen drove to the area he stated the drive-by shooting was at so that he could identify the exact location for authorities. He pointed out the 16100 block of Miramar Pkwy and a large area of road was shut down so authorities could comb it over. Not only was no evidence of a drive-by shooting found at that location, but there were also no reports made to 911 in that area regarding gunfire. Cortlen’s hands were processed by crime scene technicians for gunshot residue, and the presumptive gunshot residue test was negative. The swabs from the processing were sent off to the lab for further testing.

Statement by Dontavius Wither

Detectives went to the last known residence of the victims and spoke with Dontavius Wither, who initially identified himself falsely with the last name Williams. According to Dontavius, him, Demons, and few others went to a recording studio in two separate vehicles and left in two separate vehicles. According to him, Jamell, road in his red Mitsubishi along with others, while Cortlen, and the two victims Christopher Thomas Jr. and Anthony Williams road in the Jeep. He said that he arrived home a little before the occupants of the Jeep, that he didn’t find out that Thomas and Williams were shot until later, and that he did not know where Jamell was. This was later found to be a lie since Dontavius had just come from the residence of Fredrick Givens (Fredo Bang) and had been around Jamell there.

Security Footage at the Recording Studio

Detectives went to the recording studio that the victims, Jamell, Cortlen, and others were at the day of the shooting and accessed the security footage. The security footage showed the Jeep leaving the studio at 3:20 A.M., with Cortlen driving, Anthony in the front passenger seat, Christopher in the right rear seat, and Jamell in the left passenger seat. Jamell had a weighted down light brown satchel on the left side of his body, and Christopher had a weighted down black satchel in his left hand. The contents of these bags could not be confirmed.

The red Mitsubishi driven by Dontavius carried Adrian Davice and two other individuals unlike what Dontavius told investigators. The rest of his story was found to be true. He did go directly to the house in Miramar, with this being confirmed by security cameras at the gate at 3:49 A.M. where he was stopped and identified by security guards to gain entrance of the residence.  

Search of the Jeep

The Jeep Compass involved in the shooting was owned by Enterprise car rental and was rented by the manager of Jamell Demons, aka YNW Melly. Three projectile holes were observed in the right passenger door, five projectile holes were observed in the rear passenger door, and one was observed on the rear lift gate, all concentrated to the right side of the vehicle. Damage to the interior from the outside of the vehicle was also found. There were significant amounts of blood in both the front and rear right hand seats.

Crime Scene Photos From Alleged YNW Melly Shooting Released

A single .40 caliber Blazer S&W shell casing was found inside of the vehicle on the floor board on the rear passenger side inside of a white plastic bag where Jamell was sitting. This suggested that at least one shot was fired from inside of the vehicle, contradicting the story given by Cortlen, and indicating that the projectile holes on the exterior of the vehicle may have been staged.  

Second Statement by Dontavius Wither

On October 27th, Dontavius Wither was questioned again. When confronted with the security footage at the recording studio he said that he forgot, and Jamell was originally in the Jeep but messaged him on snapchat asking for him to pull over on I-75 near the Sheridan Street exit to meet up. Dontavius stated that there Jamell got out of the Jeep and into Dontavius’s red Mitsubishi.

Cell Phone Evidence

A search warrant was executed for cell phones and cell sites used by Jamell, Cortlen, Anthony, and Christopher. Cell phone mapping technology showed that Jamell, Christopher, Dontavius, and Anthony were together and that Dontavius followed behind them. Dontavius’s records show that he took a continuous route from the recording studio to the house, arriving at 3:49 A.M, with no stops or delays in between.  

Jamell, Christopher, and Anthony traveled west on Miramar Parkway, then turned north on SW 184th Ave., then turned west on Pines Boulevard, being seen on surveillance video at 3:53 A.M. At 4:06 A.M. the Jeep turns east and corresponded with what was later determined to be the actual crime scene location. During this time, Jamell and Anthony’s phone is shown to be in the same location. The cellphone evidence showed that they took a different path than Cortlen told authorities at the hospital, and that there was no meet up where Jamell got into Dontavius’s vehicle prior to the shooting.

Cell phone records also showed that the vehicle Jamell, Cortlen, and the victims were in went to an area west of I-75 at 4:25 A.M. before going to the hospital at 4:35 A.M. Jamell’s phone’s location stayed with the vehicle until 4:32 A.M., just 3 minutes before Cortlen got to the hospital with the victims. This evidence suggested that Cortlen and Jamell road around with their two dead friends for a period of time before going to the hospital.

Crime Scene

Crime scene photos from the Jamell Demons, YNW Melly, case released by  prosecutors

On November 21st, 2018, the actual crime scene was discovered when a K-9 showed reaction to an area on the side of the road in the area where the cell phone records indicated. Upon closer examination detectives found 8 .40 caliber Blazer S&W shell casings, and two different types of glass consistent with the front and rear passenger window based on tint shade. At this location it was discovered that the Jeep stopped at that location, someone from inside of the Jeep exited and shot into the vehicle, then got back in before making a U-turn and fleeing the area. No other vehicles were scene in the area let alone pulling up to the Jeep, showing a pattern of deceitfulness with Cortlen regarding the events of the night.

Trajectory Analysis

No description available.

A trajectory analysis was completed on the vehicle using rods and string after another search warrant was executed which showed that the flight path 8 of the projectiles had entered from the rear lift gate area, entering on the right passenger side. Additionally, one of the projectiles entered the vehicle and struck the opposite side of the vehicle. This would not have happened if the vehicle was in motion during a drive-by shooting.   

Autopsies of Christopher Thomas Jr. and Anthony Williams

Autopsies were performed on both victims. Of note, Anthony had a gunshot wound to his neck that went from the back left to the front right at an upwards trajectory. This is inconsistent with the gunshot wounds occurring from gun fire to the right side of the vehicle. Additionally, Anthony had gunshot wounds to his right shoulder and chest. None of his flight paths from the exterior of the Jeep matched the wound paths on Anthony’s head. Instead, the wound paths indicated that the weapon was fired from the left rear side of the vehicle.

According to the Medical Examiner’s Office, there was an intermediate entry wound to the left side of Christopher’s face, which means that the weapon was fired from a distance between 3 inches and 3 feet. The wound had a 3-centimeter stippling pattern around it, which suggests that it was fired from the closer side of the intermediate range. Like with Anthony, the gunshot wound paths through Christopher’s head went from left to right instead of right to left. Finally, the gunshot wounds to Christopher’s back were found to have occurred after he was shot in the head, with the projectiles entering his back while he was leaning to the left.

Comparison Analysis

The crime scene discovered on November 21st, 2018, was confirmed to be accurate through comparison analysis. The shell casing found on the floorboards of the Jeep near where Jamell was sitting when he left the recording studio matched those found on the side of the road at the crime scene.

SnapChat Evidence

A search warrant for Jamell Demon’s SnapChat was obtained and executed. Here authorities found messages between Jamell and his girlfriend 14 days after the homicide referencing Cortlen. These messages read:

 “dis nigga saved my life he koming everywhere wit me kuz if dem crackers come grab him it’s my fault u forgot???”

and

“I keep Bortlen wit kuz at da end of the day he did one of a realist shit in my life.”

These messages demonstrated Jamell’s loyalty to Cortlen, as well as Cortlen’s loyalty to Jamell since he is the one who drove the bodies of Anthony and Christopher to the hospital and dealt with police. The snapchat messages also showed that the conversation on SnapChat that Dontavius claimed prompted him to pull over on I-75 so Jamell could switch which vehicle he was in never happened. Lastly, it was found that Jamell FaceTimed his girlfriend and mother where he seemed to be hiding outside waiting to be picked up by someone in the early morning hours after the shooting.

Jamell Turns Himself In

On February 12, 2019, Cortlen was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of accessory after the fact relating to the shooting. The next day Jamell posted to his Instagram a picture of him, Cortlen, Anthony, and Christopher and captioned it stating the following:

“No I did not get locked up in Washington, but I am turning myself in today… a couple months ago I lost my two brothers by violence and now the system want to find justice.. unfortunately a lot of rumors and lies are being said but no worries god is with me and my brother @ynw.bortlen and we want y’all to remember it’s a ynw Family I love you.”

YNW Melly Drove Around with Friends' Bodies After Staging Drive-By  Shooting, Police Say | PEOPLE.com
Jamell Demons’s Mug Shot from Marijuana Arrest

The at the time 19-year-old Jamell Demons turned himself into authorities a few hours later and was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and is being held without bond. The Miramar police tweeted after the arrest saying the following:

 “Jamell Demons, a.k.a. YNW Melly & Cortlen Henry have been arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder. The victims, Anthony Williams & Christopher Thomas Jr., were killed on 10/26/2018. The investigation, supported by forensic evidence, has concluded that Demons shot and killed Williams & Thomas Jr. and that Demons and Henry staged the crime scene to resemble a drive-by shooting.”

Florida state prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty against Jamell. After having his case pushed back several times, the trial is currently set for May 23, 2022.

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