FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Jurors in the trial of three men accused of murdering rising rap star XXXTentacion concluded their fourth day of deliberations Monday by reviewing almost 1,200 text messages and several videos and photos seized from two of their cellphones.
Some of the videos and photos showed the defendants flashing fistfuls of $100 bills hours after the June 18, 2018, shooting of XXXTentacion outside a suburban Fort Lauderdale motorcycle dealership. He was killed by two armed robbers who stole $50,000 he was carrying in a Louis Vuitton bag.
There was also a photo of a story from a news website about the shooting, photos from shopping and dating apps, an apparently random photo of then-first lady Melania Trump, videos of one defendant in a pedicab with a woman and a Father's Day greeting.
The jurors made their request in the afternoon, asking to see the data from the phones of alleged shooter Michael Boatwright, 28, and the accused getaway driver and ringleader Dedrick Williams, 26, from the day before and day of the shooting.
Williams sent and received more than 950 text messages during that time and Boatwright had more than 200. Jurors had to crowd near a projection screen at the front of the courtroom to read them; they could not be read from the gallery.
The jurors did not ask for any data from the phones of alleged second gunman Trayvon Newsome, 24, or alleged co-conspirator Robert Allen, 26. Allen testified against his former friends after pleading guilty last year to second-degree murder.
Boatwright, Williams and Newsome are charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery and face mandatory life sentences if convicted. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty. The jurors have deliberated about 15 hours since getting the case late Wednesday at the end of four-weeks of testimony. Deliberations will resume Tuesday.
XXXTentacion, whose real name was Jahseh Onfroy, had just left Riva Motorsports, where he had been looking at motorcycles to purchase, when his BMW was blocked by an SUV that swerved in front.
Surveillance video showed that two masked gunmen emerged and confronted the 20-year-old rapper at the driver’s window, and one shot him repeatedly. They then grabbed the bag with the money, got back into the SUV and sped away. The friend was not harmed.
Allen testified that the men set out that day to commit robberies and went to the motorcycle shop to buy Williams a mask. There they spotted the rapper and decided to make him their target. Allen and Williams went inside the shop to confirm it was him.
They then went back to the SUV they had rented, waited for XXXTentacion to emerge and ambushed him, according to testimony. Prosecutors said surveillance video from the dealership, cellphone data and the videos of the men flashing money ties them to the shooting.
The men’s attorneys said Allen is lying and that their DNA was not found on the artist. Attorneys for some of the men said that while the money-flashing videos were “stupid,” they don’t prove their clients were actually involved in the shooting and robbery.
The rapper, who pronounced his name “Ex ex ex ten-ta-see-YAWN,” was a platinum-selling rising star who tackled issues including prejudice and depression in his songs. He also drew criticism over bad behavior and multiple arrests, including charges that he severely beat and abused his girlfriend.