On Friday, January 12, 2024, The Herald-Palladium reported that defense lawyers for rapper YNW Melly called for the Broward County State Attorney’s Office to be removed from the murder trial due to a potential conflict of interest.
YNW Melly, whose real name is Jamell Demons, is accused of killing two fellow rappers in Fort Lauderdale in 2018. His lawyers argue that prosecutors mishandled the case by failing to disclose crucial information that could have affected testimony in Melly’s first trial, which ended in a hung jury.
Specifically, the defense attorneys learned that a prosecutor, Michelle Boutros, had accused the lead detective on the case, Mark Moretti, of misconduct related to obtaining evidence. Boutros claimed Moretti plotted with a deputy to unlawfully seize cellphone data from Melly’s mother. This allegation could have been used to undermine Moretti’s credibility as a witness.
However, prosecutors did not notify the defense of Boutros’ accusations until after the first trial, in notices that provided inconsistent details. Melly’s lawyers argued this was an attempt to cover up official wrongdoing. They plan to call Boutros as a witness in the retrial to question her about the handling of the allegation against Moretti.
Complicating matters further, the State Attorney’s Office has since criticized Boutros’ version of events relating to her past complaint about Moretti. Defense attorney Daniel Aaronson argued this inherently puts prosecutors in an irreconcilable position, as they may have to cross-examine one of their own about allegedly lying. For this reason, Aaronson urged the judge to remove the entire State Attorney’s Office from overseeing the case.
Broward Circuit Judge John J. Murphy has yet to rule on the disqualification motion, but the contentious issues have added delays to the high-profile retrial of YNW Melly, which is now scheduled to continue in the spring.
Source: The Herald Palladium