Three men accused of murdering XXXTentacion, a 20-year-old rapper, during an ambush robbery in 2018 have been found guilty. Michael Boatwright, 27, Trayvon Newsome, 24 and Dedrick Williams, 26, were convicted after deliberating for more than a week by the Florida jury.
All three were charged with first-degree murder in relation to the controversial rapper's death. In the past year, Robert Allen pled guilty to second-degree murder. The three face the possibility of a life sentence in prison.
In June 2018, the rapper XXXTentacion, whose real name was Jahseh Onfroy, was shot and killed in broad daylight in Florida. Police stated at the time that he was leaving a motorcycle shop when he was approached by two armed masked men who "demanded property" from him.
XXXTentacion was shot by one of the men during a struggle that lasted for 45-seconds. Before fleeing in an SUV, the suspects stole a Louis Vuitton bag containing $50,000 (£42,000) in cash that the rapper had just withdrawn from the bank.
During the trial, Boatwright's attorney argued that his client's DNA had not been discovered on XXXTentacion's body. He stated that the DNA of the two other men also did not match.
During closing arguments, attorney Joseph Kimok stated, "Whoever (XXXTentacion) fought is not in this courtroom." Allen, the fourth suspect, testified against the other three after pleading guilty the previous year. Attorneys for the other suspects contend that Allen lied about his client's involvement in the robbery and murder.
In addition, they claimed that investigators botched the case by overlooking other suspects. The prosecutor in charge, Pascale Achille, stated that the lack of DNA evidence was irrelevant, as cell phone data indicates that the three suspects were together near the motorcycle shop at the time of the rapper's death. Bluetooth data, according to Ms. Achille, indicates that the suspects were present in the SUV used by the shooters at the same time.
As evidence, prosecutors presented surveillance footage from the motorcycle shop as well as cell phone videos allegedly taken by the accused hours after the murder and showing them flashing wads of $100 bills. The music of XXXTentacion explored themes of depression, solitude, abandonment, and suicide.
In his brief career, the platinum-selling, rising rap artist was involved in a few controversies. The allegations of domestic violence plagued his personal life. At the time of his death, he was facing 15 felony charges, including aggravated battery against a pregnant woman, domestic battery by strangulation, and witness tampering. His song Look at Me soared to No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 after its SoundCloud success.
Shortly after his death, a number of his songs climbed the charts in the United Kingdom and the United States, and thousands of fans attended his memorial service. XXXTentacion's girlfriend Sanchez, has released a statement following the conviction of the rapper's alleged murderers. She said, "Finally, you may rest in peace after five long years. She added that she was eternally grateful to all her supporters for their encouragement and prayers that have carried her through the past five years.