Broward judge declares mistrial in YNW Melly double murder case

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – After 19 days of hearing arguments, Broward Circuit Judge John Murphy declared a mistrial on Saturday after the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision regarding YNW Melly’s double murder accusations.

Broward County prosecutors will now likely choose to retry the case with a new jury.

Melly’s defense team thanked the jury for their efforts while in court but told Local 10 News they were expecting a different result.

“We are somewhat disappointed that Melly is not walking out the door with us,” said Melly’s Defense Attorney Stuart Adelstein. “There is a lack of evidence, there is a conflict in the evidence, and the evidence itself and the investigation itself, stinks.”

Prosecutors accused Jamel “Melly” Demons of fatally shooting Christopher “Juvy” Thomas Jr. and Anthony “Sakchaser” Williams in a Jeep Compass that Cortland “Bortland” Henry, a co-defendant who is awaiting trial, was driving on the early morning of Oct. 26, 2018, in Broward County.

Henry reported there was a drive-by shooting and Thomas and Williams were the victims. The prosecution accused Demons of killing Thomas and Williams and Henry of helping him to cover it up. The defense said Demons had nothing to do with the shooting.

“Everyone is stuck on which side they have chosen,” the jury’s foreperson wrote, according to Murphy.

Murphy asked the jury to give deliberations another chance to see if they can agree on a verdict. He allowed them to take a break shortly after 2:45 p.m. If their attempt fails, Murphy told the jury that he would then have to declare a mistrial in the case and dismiss them.

Nearly two hours later, the jury requested to watch the surveillance video that the prosecution displayed during testimony saying that it showed the moving Jeep Compass.

Surveillance videos show Thomas, 19, and Williams, 21, were last seen alive when they got into the Jeep Compass with Demons and Henry at the New Era Recording Studio at 805 NE 4 Ave., at about 3:20 a.m., and Henry showed up with both victims at about 4:35 a.m., at the Memorial Hospital Miramar, at 1701 SW 172 Ave., according to prosecutors and detectives.

The prosecution presented the testimony of a detective and expert witnesses who disagreed with Henry’s report. The experts estimated the trajectory of the bullets and the characteristics of the wounds contradicted Henry’s report that they had been the victims of a drive-by shooting along Miramar Parkway.

The prosecution cited cell phone data, which the defense disputed had not been properly verified, as part of the body of evidence that investigators used to accuse Demons and Henry of staging a drive-by shooting in a desolated area near the dead end of Pembroke Road.

A grand jury indicted Demons on Feb. 7, 2019, and he surrendered to Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies on Feb. 13, 2019. Deputies have held him without bond since. His trial’s opening statements were on June 12. There were 16 days of testimony, and the closing arguments ended on Thursday.



The first week of trial: Opening statements were on June 12

The second week of trial: Prosecution’s witnesses continue to testify

The third week of trial: Testimony continues

The court is in recess

The fourth week of the trial: Testimony continues

The fifth week of the trial: State and defense rest

About the Authors:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.