Young Thug, YSL Trial Day 25: Attorneys argue over potential evidence

The trial of Young Thug and his YSL co-defendants will start the week on its 25th day in Fulton County after a day filled mostly with debates between the prosecution and defense attorneys about admissible evidence.

The recent focus of the trial has been a 2017 traffic stop in which police arrested Young Thug and fellow YSL rapper Gunna.

According to reports from Brookhaven police at the time, officers pulled over the rapper, whose given name is Jeffrey Williams, for an alleged illegal tint violation. During a search of the Mercedes-Benz Maybach, officials say they found narcotics, two firearms, and a large amount of cash inside the vehicle. 

Prosecutors showed the evidence received at that traffic stop, which included marijuana, hydrocodone, and other drugs.

A shot of Young Thug during the traffic stop that was provided by the state.

While the trial was supposed to have a full day on Thursday, most of the jury's time was spent waiting outside the courtroom while lawyers for both sides battled over whether various pieces of evidence could be shown in court.

An especially contentious piece of evidence was dozens of tweets from the rapper, which the state argued helped establish their argument that Young Thug was connected to gang activity and violence. The defense argued that the tweets were a "stream of consciousness" that the prosecution was trying to incorrectly connect to each other.

FOX 5 will stream the day's proceedings on its YouTube page.

When was Young Thug arrested?

Young Thug, whose legal name is Jeffery Williams, was arrested on May 9, 2022, after a sweeping 88-page indictment accused him of being the co-founder of Young Slime Life, or YSL, a subset of the Bloods street gang. Prosecutors allege those named in the indictment have engaged in violent criminal activity in the city since 2012.

Jeffery Lamar Williams, who goes by the stage name Young Thug, was arrested on May 9, 2022.

Jeffery Lamar Williams, who goes by the stage name Young Thug, was arrested on May 9, 2022. (Fulton County Sheriff's Office)

Despite requests for bond and an elaborate house arrest plan proposed to the court, Williams remained behind bars after concerns were raised over witness intimidation.

What are the charges Young Thug faces?

A Fulton County grand jury indicted Young Thug in May 2022, and more charges were added in a subsequent indictment in August of that year. The second indictment accuses Young Thug and 27 other people of conspiring to violate Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO. The rapper is also accused of participation in criminal street gang activity, as well as drug and gun charges.

Prosecutors say Young Thug and two other people co-founded a violent criminal street gang in 2012 called Young Slime Life, or YSL, which they say is associated with the national Bloods gang. The indictment says Young Thug "made YSL a well-known name by referring to it in his songs and on social media."

In addition to specific charges, the August indictment includes a wide-ranging list of 191 acts that prosecutors say were committed between 2013 and 2022 as part of the alleged conspiracy to further the gang’s interests.

Included in that list is an allegation that Young Thug threatened in July 2015 to shoot a security guard who was trying to get him to leave an Atlanta-area mall. The indictment also says Young Thug rented a silver Infiniti sedan that was used in the killing of a rival gang member. And, on numerous occasions, he and others are alleged to have possessed various illegal drugs that they intended to distribute.

What do Young Thug's defense lawyers say?

Young Thug’s lawyers have said in multiple court filings that he is innocent of all crimes charged in the indictment. They argue that YSL is simply a record label. The rapper has pleaded not guilty.

Multiple defense attorneys in the case have said prosecutors were overzealous in their use of the RICO statute and the anti-gang law, both of which carry heavy penalties.

Who else is charged in the Young Thug YSL RICO trial?

Rapper Gunna, whose given name is Sergio Kitchens, was charged with a single count of racketeering conspiracy. He entered an Alford plea in December, which means he maintains his innocence but recognizes that it’s in his best interest to plead guilty.

During Gunna’s plea hearing, the rapper responded, "Yes, ma’am" when a prosecutor said that "YSL is a music label and a gang" and that he had knowledge that its members or associates had committed crimes in furtherance of the gang.

The other two people accused of co-founding the YSL gang — Walter Murphy and Trontavious Stephens — were also charged. They each pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy to violate the anti-racketeering law.

The remaining defendants are Marquavius Huey, Deamonte "Yak Gotti" Kendrick, Quamarvious Nichols, Rodalius Ryan and Shannon Stillwell. 

What penalties does Young Thug face if he's convicted?

Young Thug’s racketeering conspiracy charge and two gang charges each carry a penalty of five to 20 years in prison. The other five charges also carry potential prison time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.