YNW Melly: why did US rapper receive a mistrial, what does it mean and what next - is YNW Melly out of prison?
Experts say a retrial for YNW Melly is just around the corner as the defence and state are set to meet on Friday
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One of the biggest trials in the history of mainstream music has hit another roadblock, as the double murder case of US rapper YNW Melly has been declared a mistrial.
Judge John Murphy made the announcement on Saturday (22 July) after overseeing 19 days of hearing arguments, as the jury failed to reach an unanimous decision.
YNW Melly - real name Jamell Demons - is facing two first-degree murder charges for the October 2018 killings of Anthony Williams, 21, and Christopher Thomas, 19, in Miramar, Florida. The 24-year-old pleaded not guilty to the charges but faces a possible death sentence if convicted.
Closing arguments had come to a close on Thursday (20 July) and the case was then handed over to the Broward jury who had two days to deliberate on the outcome of the trial. It is understood that they had asked the judge if they could review some of the evidence again, but after a few hours they were unable to reach an agreement forcing the judge to issue a mistrial order.
Judge Murphy said: "Our system doesn't work without getting people from the community to come in here and listen to the facts of the case and make decisions. You gave us the time and you put your best effort to see if you could bring this case to a resolution, unfortunately it wasn't able to happen but I want to thank you again for your time and consideration of the case."
The US rapper was all smiles in the courtroom when the jury were dismissed. Over the course of the trial, YNW Melly has been represented by lawyer David Howard.
Here is everything you need to know about the future of the YNW Melly murder trial.
What does a mistrial mean and what happens next for YNW Melly?
Elite US education centre Cornell Law School notes that a mistrial occurs when a jury of a case is unable to reach a verdict. As the trial must continue, it is common that it continues with a new jury.
This is not always the case as there could be a serious procedural error or misconduct that would result in an unfair trial. The judge would then adjourn the case without a decision on the merits before awarding a new trial.
The next steps for YNW Melly and his legal team is that the defence and state will meet next Friday (28 July) to discuss how the case will move forward.
Has YNW Melly been released from prison?
Since his initial arrest, YNW Melly has been serving time in Broward's main jail. The rapper will remain in prison until the court comes to an official decision.
Can YNW Melly receive the death penalty despite a mistrial?
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law in April 2023 which allows for the imposition of the death penalty when the jury recommends death by a vote of 8-4. The US presidential candidate then signed a bill expanding capital punishment in the state on 1 May, which allows for the death penalty to be imposed for certain sexual crimes committed against children, as well as in cases where the victim does not die.
In the case that YNW Melly's double murder trial is overseen by a new jury, should they decide decide to convict him and sentence him to death, the rapper will be one of the first to receive it after Judge Murphy granted state prosecutors’ motion to follow the new law.