Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP) – Jurors in the trial of three men accused of killing rising rap star XXXTentacion nearly five years ago outside a Florida motorcycle dealership failed again Tuesday to reach a verdict on their fifth day of deliberations.
After receiving the case on March 8, the jury deliberated for nearly 20 hours. The panel of 12 will return to the court on Wednesday.
Jurors on Tuesday asked accused shooter Michael Boatwright to receive a copy of text messages that were sent and received on June 18, 2018, the day the rapper was killed during a $50,000 robbery. He had seen a computer projection of those messages and those of accused ringleader Dedrick Williams on Monday after being asked to review them.
The only important question they asked was to see a transcript of Williams’ statement to detectives after his arrest. The lead detective testified about that statement, but no transcript was entered into evidence. They were told to rely on memory of what they said.
Twenty-eight-year-old Boatwright, along with Williams, 26, and accused second gunman Trayvon Newsom, 24, have all been charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery. All face a mandatory life sentence if convicted. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty. While all three are being tried together, jurors must vote on each separately. It is possible that they may convict one or two and acquit or execute the rest.
A fourth man, 26-year-old Robert Allen, pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder and testified against his former friends.
XXXTentacion, whose real name is Jahseh Onfroy, had left Riva Motorsports in suburban Fort Lauderdale with a friend when his BMW was blocked by an SUV that swerved in front.
Surveillance video showed two masked gunmen appeared and confronted the 20-year-old rapper at the driver’s window, and one shot him repeatedly. He then grabbed a Louis Vuitton bag containing the $50,000 that XXXTentacion had just retrieved from the bank, got back in the SUV and fled. The friend was not harmed.
Allen testified that the men had gone out to commit a robbery that day and had gone to a motorcycle shop to buy Williams’ mask. There he saw the rapper and decided to make him his target. Allen and Williams go inside the shop to confirm that it is him.
They then went back to the SUV they had rented, waited for XXXTentacion to emerge and ambushed him, according to testimony. Prosecutors say surveillance video and cellphone data from the dealership link the men to the scene. They also showed gamblers videos that the men allegedly posted on social media that night, showing handfuls of $100 bills.
The men’s lawyers said Allen was lying and that their DNA was not found on the artist. Lawyers for some of the men said that while the videos showing the money were “silly”, they do not prove that their clients were actually involved in the shooting and robbery.
The rapper, who pronounced his name “x x x ten-ta-si-yawn”, was a platinum-selling rising star who tackled issues including prejudice and depression in his lyrics. He also drew criticism over bad behavior and multiple arrests, including allegations that he severely beat and abused his girlfriend.