Rapper YNW Melly is facing the death penalty if convicted of the double murder of his two friends.
On Monday, the State of Florida announced its decision to seek capital punishment against Melly, 19, because prosecutors believe they can prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Melly murdered aspiring rappers Anthony Williams, 21, and Christopher Thomas Jr., 19, for “financial gain,” according to court documents obtained by XXL magazine.
“The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, and he committed homicide in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner,” the court documents state.
Florida is one of the 30 states where capital punishment is legal.
Melly, whose real name is Jamell Demons, was arrested in February after allegedly shooting Williams and Thomas Jr. on Oct. 26.
After the shooting, which took place in Fort Lauderdale, Melly — allegedly with the help of another rapper identified as Cortlen Henry aka YNW Bortlen — covered up the murder by making it look as if it was a drive-by shooting, Miramar Police alleged in a statement shared on Twitter.
The victims were then allegedly driven to Memorial Hospital Miramar by Henry, 26, in a Jeep Compass at around 4:35 a.m., Sun-Sentinel reported.
Williams and Thomas were both pronounced dead at the hospital.
Williams was also known as YNW Sakchaser and Thomas was known as YNW Juvy. Both rappers were featured on a documentary about Melly posted on Melly’s YouTube page.
According to documents obtained by Complex and TMZ, Melly’s booking report out of Miramar, Florida says that Henry drove to an emergency room in the early morning hours asking for help for two friends in his car, claiming they had been shot in a drive-by.
Henry told police he and the two victims had just wrapped a late-night studio session when a car pulled up on his driver’s side and opened fire as he was pulling off the freeway, TMZ reported. Cops confirmed there were eight bullet holes along the right side of the vehicle where Williams and Thomas Jr. sat, and Henry escaped injury.
Cops found a shell casing inside Henry’s vehicle, along with eight matching shell casings in a different location, where they think Melly and Henry shot the car to make it look like a drive-by, according to TMZ, who also reports that cops believe that the initial shot was fired from inside the car on the left rear passenger side. After reviewing surveillance footage, cops were able to determine that Melly had been sitting on the left rear passenger side of the car.
“Evidence from the autopsy revealed that both victims’ wound paths to their heads were from a left to right direction. This directly contradicts the statements made by Henry and do not support the statements of a drive-by shooting that occurred on the right side of the vehicle,” Complex quotes the court documents as saying.
Additionally, the outlet reports that the police allege Melly and Henry drove around with the bodies of Williams and Thomas Jr. after they had been shot “for a period of time” before driving to the hospital. Henry later told police that Melly was, in fact, in the same car with them but eventually got into another vehicle.
On Feb. 13, Melly, revealed on Instagram that he would be turning himself in to authorities.
“To all my fans and supporters… I am turning my self in today,” Melly wrote.
“I want you guys to know I love you and appreciate every single one of y’all, a couple months ago I lost two brothers by violence and now the system want[s] to find justice… unfortunately a lot of rumors and lies are being said but no worries god is with me and my brother @ynw.bortlen and we want y’all to remember it’s a ynw family.”
Melly concluded the post by saying “I love you” to Williams and Thomas Jr.
Henry was arrested in January in Houston and was extradited to Broward.
Just after the murder, Melly’s attorney Bradford Cohen said, according to the Sun Sentinel, the rapper is “sad, he’s upset, obviously.”
“Those are his best friends,” Cohen said.
In March, Melly and Henry pleaded not guilty to charges in connection with the case, Billboard reported. Both men remain behind bars without bond.
At this time, it is not certain that prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Henry, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Following the new developments in the case, Cohen told the Sun-Sentinel that Melly is not guilty. “We disagree with the assertions that prosecutors are making in the notice to seek death, but it did not come as a surprise to us,” Cohen told the outlet.
Melly is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
Cohen did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Prior to his arrest, Melly, who is best known for his song “Murder on My Mind” released his debut album We All Shine in January and was expected to embark on a tour in support of the project. Melly also recently collaborated with Kanye West on the track “Mixed Personalities.”
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