Three men found guilty in murder of XXXTentacion
Three men accused of killing 20-year-old rapper XXXTentacion during a 2018 ambush robbery have been found guilty.
A Florida jury convicted Michael Boatwright, 27, Dedrick Williams, 26, and Trayvon Newsome, 24 on Monday after deliberating for more than a week.
All three were charged with first-degree murder in connection to the death of the controversial rapper.
Another man, Robert Allen, pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder.
The three face a possible sentence of life behind bars.
Rapper XXXTentacion, real name Jahseh Onfroy, was shot and killed in broad daylight in Florida in June 2018.
He was visiting a motorcycle shop and was leaving when he was approached by two armed masked men who “demanded property” from him, police said at the time.
At least one of the men shot XXXTentacion during a 45-second struggle.The suspects then grabbed a Louis Vuitton bag full of $50,000 (£42,000) in cash that the rapper had just withdrawn from the bank before fleeing the scene in an SUV.
During the trial, the lawyer for Boatwright argued that his client’s DNA was not found on XXXTentacion’s body. He said the DNA of the two other men did not match either.
“Whoever (XXXTentacion) struggled with is not in this courtroom,” lawyer Joseph Kimok said during closing arguments.
The fourth suspect, Allen, testified against the other three after he pleaded guilty last year. Lawyers for the other suspects have argued that Allen lied about their client’s involvement in the robbery and death.
They also claimed that investigators botched the case and failed to consider other suspects.
Lead prosecutor Pascale Achille, however, said that the lack of DNA evidence was irrelevant, as cell phone data shows the three accused were together near the motorcycle shop at the time of the rapper’s death.
Ms Achille said that Bluetooth data shows the accused were in the SUV used by the shooters at that same time.
Prosecutors presented surveillance video from the motorcycle shop as evidence, as well as cell phone videos that the accused allegedly took hours after the killing showing them flashing handfuls of $100 bills.
XXXTentacion’s music explored themes of depression, loneliness, abandonment and suicide. The platinum-selling rising rap artist faced some controversies in his brief career.
His personal life was plagued by allegations of domestic violence. He was facing 15 felony charges at the time of his death, including aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, domestic battery by strangulation and witness tampering.
His song Look at Me took off on SoundCloud and later exploded to No 34 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Many of his tracks climbed up the charts in the UK and the US shortly after his death, and his memorial was attended by thousands of fans.