Jamell Demons, best known as YNW Melly, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder on Wednesday, February 13. The 19-year-old Florida rapper turned himself in to Miramar, Florida police for the fatal shootings of his friends Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr.—aspiring rappers who went by YNW Sakchaser and YNW Juvy, respectively.
Since the news of Melly’s charges hit the internet, mugshots and song lyrics have been flying, causing a lot of confusion about the exact order of events. Some fans have made the mistake that Melly’s gold single "Murder On My Mind," released 19 months before the deaths of Williams and Thomas, was an after-the-fact confession.
Other details surrounding Melly’s case and his previous run-ins with the law have been misleadingly presented on social media—sometimes out of order, and sometimes completely fabricated. Here is a complete timeline of YNW Melly’s career milestones and his legal issues, leading up to the most recent charges.
October 19, 2015: Shooting near Vero Beach High School
According to local reports, Melly fired a gun toward a group of people near Vero Beach High School, but not on school grounds. (The reason for the fired shots was never revealed.) The three people he was aiming at were reportedly students at Vero Beach, between the ages of 17 to 20. Melly was charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of discharging a firearm in public.
2016: YNW Melly serves one year jail sentence and writes “Murder On My Mind”
After being charged for firing his gun near a school, Melly served a one year sentence in a Florida jail. According to his verified annotation on Genius, he wrote “Murder On My Mind” while behind bars. “I literally woke up in the jail cell and I was like, ‘Wake up in the morning, I got murder on my mind. AK-47, MAC-11, Glocks, and nine’s.’ And then the bitch was like, ‘Get up, get up. Time to get up.’ Like, ‘Yeah, fuck that song.’”
Melly also noted that he “wasn’t really fucking with nobody like that for like 3 months” while in jail. “Ain’t nobody know I could rap,” he wrote. Eventually, he shared his talents with another inmate, a local rapper who declared Melly as his new favorite after hearing the early version of “Murder on My Mind.” Melly says, “He kept telling everybody like, ‘Bruh, you the best rapper in the compound, Melly. This music you can feel.’”
March, 2017: YNW Melly Releases “Murder On My Mind”
On March 4, 2017, YNW Melly uploaded “Murder on My Mind” to SoundCloud. Five days later, he released the the audio on YouTube, where it has more than 16 million plays. Since its release, the song has been described as “haunting,” due to lyrics that go into uncomfortable detail about Melly’s imaginary murder story: “Yellow tape around his body, it's a fucking homicide/His face is on a T-shirt and his family traumatized/I didn't even mean to shoot him, he just caught me by surprise/I reloaded my pistol, cocked it back, and shot him twice.” In an August 2018 interview with Fader, Melly explained those lyrics may have contributed to him bouncing back to jail. “The second verse, in which he describes a murder, caught the attention of the state attorney, who read it aloud in court,” the magazine explained. “Though he said they brought up other petty infractions, Melly contends it was the lyrics that landed him back in jail for violating his probation.”
June 30, 2018: YNW Melly and YNW Bortlen arrested for marijuana and gun possession
Last summer, Melly was arrested for possession of marijuana, possession of weapon or ammunition by a convicted felon, and drug paraphernalia. In addition to Melly, Cortlen Henry, AKA YNW Bortlen, Melly’s longtime friend, was also arrested, for possession of a weapon or ammunition by a convicted felon. They both posted bonds and were released the following day.
October 26, 2018: Deaths of YNW Sakchaser and YNW Juvy
Just days before Halloween, reports revealed that YNW Melly’s friends, Anthony Williams AKA YNW Sakchaser, and Christopher Thomas Jr. AKA YNW Juvy, had been killed. They were each reportedly shot multiple times, and driven to Memorial Miramar Hospital, where they were pronounced dead shortly after arrival. Sakchaser was 21, and Juvy was 19.
The Sun Sentinel reports, “Before sunrise on Oct. 26, a Jeep Compass with the rear window punched out delivered mortally wounded Anthony D’Andre Williams and Christopher Thomas, Jr. to the emergency bay of Memorial Hospital Miramar. Doctors declared them dead. Henry [YNW Bortlen] was the driver of the Jeep, and the only passengers were the dying men. Demons [YNW Melly] was not at the hospital that early morning, according to police.”
At the time of their deaths, the incident was thought to have been a drive-by shooting. The day after the murders, Melly posted a photo of himself with his deceased friends on Instagram. “They Took My Brothers From Me Over Jealousy,” he wrote. “I know y’all watching over me it’s #ynw4l @ynwsakchaser1 @ynwjuvy for Life and after, they wanna see me break down and stop or in jail or a box but my niggas still need me they parents need me they family need me till we meet again my twins my slimes.”
Melly’s lawyer Bradford Cohen, who has also represented Kodak Black, spoke on behalf of the young Florida rapper shortly after the deaths. "He's sad, he's upset, obviously," Cohen told the Sun Sentinel on October 31. "Those were his best friends."
January 3, 2019: YNW Melly arrested for possession of marijuana
At the top of the new year, YNW Melly was arrested in Fort Myers, Florida for possession of marijuana. His viral smiling mugshot was taken during this arrest.
February 12, 2019: YNW Bortlen charged with two counts of first-degree murder
On February 12, 2019, YNW Bortlen AKA Cortlen Henry was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts as an accessory after the fact, in connection with the deaths of YNW Sakchaser and YNW Juvy.
February 13, 2019: YNW Melly arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder
On February 13, 2019, YNW Melly AKA Jamell Demons was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of his childhood friends, YNW Sakchaser and YNW Juvy.
Hours before his arrest, Melly posted another photo of himself with Sakchaser and Juvy, this time also including Bortlen. "To all my fans and supporters no I did not get locked up in Washington, but I am turning myself in today,” he wrote on Instagram. “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 @ynw.bortlen and we want y’all to remember it’s a ynw Family I love you @ynwsakchaser1 and @ynwjuvy.”
The evening Melly turned himself in, Miramar police tweeted their take on the case: “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.”
February 14, 2019: YNW Melly ordered to remain in jail without bond
The day after turning himself in to authorities, YNW Melly appeared in court. Broward County Judge Jackie Powell ordered that Melly remain in jail without bond, per the Sun Sentinel. Judge Powell also ordered Henry to be held without bond, and instructed the two friends to avoid contact with each other.
The Sun Sentinel reported Henry was not cooperating with prosecutors in the investigation. “Mr. Henry is not going to be a witness,” a prosecutor said during his hearing. “At this point, the state will not be extending offers of any sort to Mr. Henry.”
In addition to Bradford Cohen, who provided a statement of grief on Melly’s behalf immediately after the shooting, the rapper is also being legally represented by Mitchell Polay. Polay declined to speak on Melly’s behalf, after his client’s arrest.
Source: KIANA FITZGERALD