A single bullet casing, cellphone records and surveillance video point to rapper YNW Melly as the gunman who took the lives of two longtime friends, Miramar police say.
YNW Melly and his friend, Cortlen Malik Henry tried to disguise the killings of Anthony D’Andre Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr. as a drive-by shooting, and to portray themselves as survivors of street violence in an effort to mislead police, according to newly available court documents.
But evidence that the initial, lethal gunfire came from inside the Jeep undermined that tale.
The four young men from the Treasure Coast were in South Florida last fall to make music.
YNW Melly, whose name is Jamelle Demons, 19, had a certified gold record with the single “Murder on my mind” and was in the middle of a tour when he turned himself in Feb. 13 to face premeditated murder charges.
His friends — Williams, 21, who was also called YNW Sakchaser, and Thomas, 19, whose stage name was YNW Juvy — aspired to become music stars, too.
Music-making ends in murder
On Oct. 26, video from New Era Recording Studio, at 805 NE 4th Ave. in Fort Lauderdale, showed the four men leave in a Jeep Compass SUV at 3:20 a.m.
Henry, 20, was driving; Demons sat behind him; Williams sat in the front passenger seat and Thomas was in the right rear seat.
Cellphone records showed Demons, Thomas and Williams traveled west on Miramar Parkway, north on Southwest 184th Avenue and then west on Pines Boulevard.
The killings happened on far west Pembroke Road, near a waste treatment plant and the Everglades, according to court documents.
What’s not yet revealed is why, and Miramar police won’t discuss the investigation.
Williams was shot in his head, right shoulder and chest. Thomas had several gunshot wounds in his back and head.
Bullets in bodies, bullets in steel
The “’wound paths” for the men indicated they were shot from back to front, and from left to right, documents said.
The initial lethal shot to the left side of Thomas’ face happened while he was inside the SUV and came from the left rear passenger side, where Demons was sitting, according to police.
Police recovered a bullet casing that was inside a white plastic bag found on the Jeep’s left rear passenger floorboard.
The Broward Sheriff’s Crime Lab matched it to bullet casings found on Pembroke Road.
The evidence shows Williams also was shot while inside the Jeep, which had “a significant amount of blood” on the side of the SUV where he and Thomas had been sitting.
Demons and Henry then got out of the Jeep and shot at the exterior, according to documents.
Eight bullets had entered the Jeep from the outside through the right passenger side, and traveled along paths that didn’t match the wounds on the deceased men.
A Fort Lauderdale police officer and dog helped search the scene and found eight .40-caliber shell casings in the shoulder of the road, as well as clear and tinted glass.
After the killings, Demons and Henry drove around with Williams’ and Thomas’ bodies in the Jeep, documents said.
At 4:32 a.m., Demons cellphone records show he left the Jeep. Police say a manager who has not been charged in the case picked Demons up and drove him out of the area.
Following the evidence
Three minutes later, Henry arrived at Memorial Hospital Miramar at 1901 SW 172nd Ave.
Henry told a Miramar police officer who was working a security detail at the hospital that Williams and Thomas were victims of a drive-by shooting. Doctors pronounced them dead.
Henry also told detectives he drove the Jeep along Interstate 595, Interstate 75 and then west on Miramar Parkway. As the Jeep was just off the exit near Dykes Road/Southwest 160th Avenue, a vehicle pulled alongside and someone began firing at them.
Henry told police he fell to the floorboard to avoid flying bullets and after seeing his friends were shot, headed to the hospital.
But police said after a searching 12 blocks along Miramar Parkway, no evidence to support Henry’s version of events could be found.
Also, no one had reported hearing gunfire to 911 operators in Broward or Miami-Dade counties, police said.
The Broward state attorney’s office charged Henry with premeditated murder, and with being an accessory to a capital felony.
Where is the gun?
The court documents don’t say where Demons went after leaving the Jeep. They also don’t say whether a gun was recovered, or most importantly, why the lethal violence happened between young men who were childhood friends.
Demons, Thomas and Henry had shared a two-story house in Miramar, a few miles from where police believe the shootings happened. Williams was living in Fort Lauderdale.
At the end of a documentary about Demons on YouTube, Demons and his friends are described as the targets of a drive-by shooting in Miami. On the day Demons turned himself in to a jail in Fort Lauderdale, he wrote on Instagram how he “… lost my two brothers by violence and now the system want to find justice…”
In the two weeks since Demons and Henry were jailed, views of the YouTube documentary doubled, from 1.1 million to 2.2 million.
Demons and Henry are in a Broward County jail, being held without bond. Their attorneys could not be reached for comment.
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