YNW Melly aka Jamell Demons is facing two charges of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr. in October 2018.
On September 18, 2020, multiple Twitter users said that Demons, 21, had been sentenced to death. While prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, at the time of writing Demons had not faced trial on the charges and has not been sentenced.
In Addition to the Shooting of Thomas & Williams, Demons Is Also Considered a Suspect in the Shooting of Off-Duty Deputy Gary Chambliss in 2017
Demons turned himself over to authorities in February 2019 in relation to the charges, according to Miami New Times. The shooting took place in Miramar, Florida, around 30 miles north of Miami. In March 2019, Demons pleaded not guilty to the charges, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. Williams and Thomas were both members of Demons’ YNW music collective. Demons remains a suspect in the shooting death of off-duty sheriff’s deputy Gary Chambliss in Gifford, Florida, in 2017, according to the Vero News.
The Sun Sentinel reported in April 2019 that Broward County prosecutors were seeking the death penalty for Demons. The same report said prosecutors were accusing Demons of gang membership. Demons’ co-defendant, Cortlen Henry, 21, did not receive a notice regarding the death penalty, his lawyer told the Sun Sentinel. Demons’ lawyer, Bradford Cohen, told the newspaper, “We disagree with the assertions that prosecutors are making in the notice to seek death, but it did not come as a surprise to us.”
There Were Rumors in December 2019 That Demons Was Killed in a Prison Stabbing
In April 2020, CBS12 reported that a judge denied Demons’ request to be released from prison after he contracted COVID-19. Demons is being held at Broward County Jail. In December 2019, Demons was the victim of rumors that he was stabbed to death in prison. The rumors of an assault were untrue and debunked by Snopes.
Henry Faced a Court Hearing on September 17
Henry faced a court hearing on September 17, though the outcome of that hearing has not been made public at the time of writing. On September 15, lawyers representing Christopher Thomas Jr.’s family said they were filing suit against Demons and Henry.
The Miramar Police Department said in a statement around the time of Williams’ and Thomas’ deaths that the victims were driven to Memorial Miramar Hospital on the night of the shooting. The statement said that investigators found Henry’s story was inconsistent and did not match the evidence.
The day after the shooting, Demons mourned Williams and Thomas in a now-deleted Instagram post referring to the pair as his “brothers.” Demons wrote, “They took my brothers from me over jealousy. I know y’all watching over me.” The police accused Demons and Henry of staging a scene to make it appear as if Thomas and Williams were victims of a drive-by shooting.
In a now-deleted Instagram post, Demons said he was handing himself over to authorities, telling his fans, “I want you guys to know I love you and appreciate every single one of y’all, 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.”
In legal documents obtained by Fader, prosecutors accuse Demons of behaving “in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner without any pretense of moral or legal justification.” The prosecutors say Demons committed the crimes for monetary gain.
Demons Would Have to Be Convicted by a Unanimous Jury in Order to Face the Death Penalty
Florida is one of 30 states in the United States where the death penalty is legal. As of June 2020, there are 339 inmates awaiting execution in Florida. The statutes considered in death penalty cases include whether the crime was committed for monetary gain, if the crime was committed by a gang member or if the crime was “especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel.”
According to Florida law, Demons would need to be convicted by a unanimous jury to actually receive the death penalty. Executions are carried out at Florida State Prison in Starke, Florida. Male inmates serve the time on death row at the facility. The governor has the power to grant clemency in death penalty cases.
Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center told Fader that if Demons is found guilty, it would take a long time for the sentence to be carried out, as he would likely file multiple appeals.