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Jury Convicts Three Of Murdering Rapper XXXTentacion During Armed Robbery
Michael Boatwright, Dedrick Williams and Trayvon Newsome were all found guilty of first-degree murder on Monday for the 2018 death of rapper XXXTentacion. Their sentencing is scheduled for April 6.
Three men have been convicted for the 2018 murder of rapper Jahseh Onfroy, better known as XXXTentacion.
The platinum-selling singer-songwriter was robbed of $50,000 and shot to death at age 20 as he drove his BMW away from a RIVA Motorsports motorcycle store in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on June 18 of that year, according to the Associated Press.
Michael Boatwright, 28, Dedrick Williams, 26, and Trayvon Newsome, 24, were all found guilty of first-degree murder and armed robbery by a Broward County jury on its eighth day of deliberations on Monday, the news service reported.
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Their sentencing is scheduled for April 6. Florida law dictates a life sentence in first-degree murder convictions, according to the AP.
The three men, one wearing a button-down shirt and the other two clad in suits, showed little emotion as they were handcuffed by a bailiff. There was no audible reaction from observers in the courtroom, according to KTLA. Circuit Judge Michael Usan warned that anyone who had an outburst would be held in contempt of court.
Williams' attorney, Mauricio Padilla, told the AP that he didn't feel his client received a fair trial. The defense was prohibited from deposing a key witness, he said, and a crucial defense witness was stricken.
“It is obvious from the days the jury was deliberating that they had questions and I only wish I would have been able to properly defend my client,” Padilla said.
Over the month-long trial, prosecutors showed jurors extensive security footage taken inside and outside the store, plus cellphone videos filmed by the three convicted men after the slaying, showing them flashing fistfuls of $100 bills, according to the AP.
Prosecutors showed jurors a text sent by Boatwright to his brother an hour after the shooting, telling him that he "got the money for a new phone" and a screenshot of a news article about XXXTentacion's shooting death he sent to another person shortly afterwards.
In the days after the shooting, law enforcement said, Boatwright searched "accessory to murder" and "XXXTentacion" on his cellphone, according to Law & Crime.
Boatwright was the triggerman who approached the rapper's driver's side window and fired the shot that took the rapper's life, according to CBS Miami affiliate WFOR. Newsome held a gun but never fired, taking possession of the money and fleeing the scene after the shooting. Williams was accused of driving the getaway car, a rented SUV, using it to box in Onfroy's BMW before peeling away from the scene.
Alleged co-conspirator Robert Allen, 26, testified against his former friends in a plea deal, pleading guilty last year to second-degree murder. His sentence is also pending. He could get anywhere from time already served to life in prison, depending on how useful prosecutors found his testimony.
He said that he and the three men convicted this week set out that day to commit robberies, and were at the motorcycle shop buying a mask for Williams when they spotted Onfroy and made him their mark.
“I tell them I don’t think it is a good idea,” Allen told jurors of the plan's conception. “I just went in there, and I am on camera. I knew it was a great chance we were gonna be caught.”
Corroborating Allen's account, according to Law & Crime, Williams was seen on security footage at the motorcycle shop just after Onfroy left the store. Law enforcement also claimed that a live round found at Williams' home "cycled through" the weapon that was used to kill XXXTentacion at one point.
XXXTentacion's family friend Leonard Kerr, who was with him but unharmed in the fatal robbery, testified earlier this month that the very-recognizable rapper had money visible in his Louis Vuitton bag while he was shopping in the store.
"'What’s this for?'" Kerr testified that he heard his friend say before he was shot, according to the AP.
Kerr told jurors he got out of the car and made a run for it when the men brandished their weapons. He said he heard at least two shots before the masked men got back into their SUV and drove away.
Williams tried to minimize his involvement in the killing, telling jurors that he only received $5,000 of the $50,000 stolen from the rapper because he wasn't directly involved in the robbery. The other men, he said, each took home $15,000.
As Allen was escorted to the stand, per Law & Crime, Newsome allegedly shouted, “There he is working with the police! You’re working with the white man now!”
On the stand, Allen pointed to Newsome and exclaimed, “He called me a police-ass n***a. He said I work for the white man and that I am a sellout.”
Defense attorneys argued that Allen is fabricating his story and that their clients' DNA was never found on the slain artist. While the men's videos showcasing cash were "stupid," they said, they did not prove that their clients carried out the shooting and robbery. They also argued that law enforcement failed to investigate other suspects, like Canadian rapper Drake, with whom the slain rapper had an online feud.
Over the course of the court proceedings, Boatwright's attorney attempted to argue that his client was not competent to stand trial. Newsome's lawyer sought to separate his client's trial from those of his co-defendants, Law & Crime reported.