ATLANTA — Citing “numerous threats to kill or harm witnesses,” prosecutors in the case against rapper Young Thug and a group of his associates accused of being part of a violent street gang have won an order requiring the Defense attorneys to retain witnesses’ contact information for their clients, show court documents.
Prosecutors said they were aware of numerous threats against witnesses, who said “they feared not only for their own lives, but for the lives of their families if they testified,” according to a motion filed this week.
Defense lawyers denied any attempt to intimidate witnesses.
The order, issued Wednesday by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville, highlights the tense nature of a case that has targeted one of the world’s most famous rap artists. And it rocked the creative community he hailed from in Atlanta, a city known internationally as a major hip-hop talent incubator.
Young Thug, real name Jeffery Williams, was among 27 people charged in May in a sweeping grand jury indictment that identified them as members of a subset of Bloods street gangs known as Young Slime Life, or YSL.
Some have been charged with violent crimes, including murder and attempted armed robbery, and all have been charged with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. Mr Williams was charged with the charge of conspiracy and one count of participating in criminal street gang activity.
On Tuesday, Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis filed a motion with the court claiming the gang “had a history of witness intimidation” and also noted an incident, described in the indictment. , in which a gang member named Christian Eppinger is accused of attempting to murder two Atlanta police officers.
The motion argues that law enforcement officers are potentially at risk, noting that a family member of one of the defendants, Quartavius Mender, was recently arrested and charged with threatening the sheriff. of Fulton County, Pat Labat, and his wife. Mr Mender, according to the motion, wrote “#freethug or Imma sh00t u and your wife” and “Imma murder you” on the sheriff’s social media profile, using a hashtag Young Thug fans used in the online criticism of prosecutors. Case.
On Wednesday, Brian Steel, a lawyer for Mr Williams, said the entertainer “never intimidated or threatened any witnesses”.
“However, I look forward to receiving the discovery,” he continued, “so that we can continue our march towards the elimination of an innocent man.”
Mr Steel has previously said YSL is not a street gang. The rapper, who was arrested on May 9, was denied bail and is being held in a jail outside of Atlanta.