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XXXTentacion’s Friend Testifies About Armed Robbery That Ended In Rapper's Murder
Leonard Kerr, who was with rapper XXXTentacion just before his murdered, testified against alleged gunmen Michael Boatwright and Trayon Newsome as well as the alleged getaway driver, Dedrick Williams.
More than four years after the brutal midday murder of rapper XXXTentacion in Florida, the trial against three of the four men charged in the case began on Tuesday.
Prosecutors allege that Michael Boatwright, 28, and Trayon Newsome, 24, were the gunmen, while Dedrick Williams, 26, was the getaway driver in the armed robbery that killed the rapper — whose given name was Jahseh Ofroy, 20, — in June 2018. A fourth man, 26-year-old Robert Allen, pleaded guilty to second degree murder last year and is expected to testify against the other three, the Associated Press reported.
Prosecutors laid out their theory of the case in opening statements on Tuesday, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. They told the jury that Boatright, Newsome, Williams and Allen rented a Dodge Journey SUV on June 17, 2018 with the intention of committing an unknown number of armed robberies the following day. At around 3:30 p.m., Williams and Allen walked into the Riva Motorsports in suburban Fort Lauderdale, where XXXTentacion — who was incredibly recognizable — was shopping for a motorcycle with $50,000 in cash in a Louis Vuitton bag and a family friend, Leonard Kerr.
Kerr testified on Tuesday that the cash was visible in his friend's bag as they shopped.
Williams and Allen, prosecutors say, purchased two black masks and left the store, but surveillance footage showed they got into their SUV and parked just outside the parking lot gate, the New York Times reported at the time. When the rapper and Kerr left without making a purchase, the SUV pulled in front of the rapper's BMW i8 sports car, according to CBS Miami affiliate WFOR, blocking it from leaving.
Two masked men jumped out — prosecutors contend they were Boatright and Newsome — and pointed guns at XXXTentacion and Kerr. Ultimately, the rapper was shot and the men departed in the SUV with his $50,000, his bag and a necklace he'd been wearing.
XXXTentacion was pronounced dead at a hospital. Boatright and Newsome allegedly took pictures of themselves that night posing with his cash, some of which they posted on social media, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Surveillance video from in and around the store, cell phone data, fingerprints and other witness statements — including, eventually, Allen's — reportedly implicated all four men. Despite earlier reporting suggesting the four may have targeted the rapper earlier in the day, prosecutors on Tuesday told the jury that Williams and Allen happened to recognize him when they went into Riva Motorsports to buy their masks, the AP reported.
Kerr testified that, when the SUV barricaded them in the parking lot, two men jumped out. The taller man pointed a gun at him and told him not to move, while the other reached inside the car and snatched XXXTentacion's chain.
"'What’s this for?'" Kerr testified that he heard his friend say, according to the AP.
When the men didn't answer, Kerr said he decided to make a run for it.
“If I run, I can get shot, but I can live. If I sit ...” he said, as he teared up. (XXXTentacion had reportedly openly speculated about the possibility that he might die prematurely.)
Kerr said he got out of the car and ran for it and, when he looked back, the man who had been pointed the gun at him was pointing it at his friend. He heard at least two shots and then saw the men get into the SUV and speed off.
Though Boatright, Williams and Newsome are on trial together, the men's respective defense lawyers filed motions to separate their trials, arguing that any of their clients could present defenses that would implicate the other two, the AP previously reported. A judge rejected that motion.
On the defense's witness list, though the judge may not allow lawyers to call him, is Canadian rapper Drake, with whom XXXTentacion had online beef. XXXTentacion once claimed on social media (and later retracted his statement) that, if he ended up dead, Drake would be to blame, the New York Post reported. Williams' lawyer suggested in his opening statement that officers failed to investigate the possibility that Drake — who got his start as an actor on the Canadian teen drama "Degrassi: The Next Generation" in the early aughts — had hired hitmen to kill XXXTentacion.
Prosecutors contend there is no evidence that Drake had anything to do with the armed robbery allegedly committed by Boatright, Newsome, Williams and Allen, who have no apparent ties to the best-selling artist.