Young Thug appears in front of judge for first time since initial arrest in May

ATLANTA — Jeffrey Williams, aka Young Thug, appeared before a Fulton County judge Thursday afternoon in his first court appearance in months.

The rapper, whose real name is Jeffrey Williams, is one of more than two dozen people arrested in a sweeping gang indictment.

The rapper is accused of being one of the founders of Young Slime Life, an alleged criminal street gang that prosecutors say is behind murders, aggravated assaults with a deadly weapon and armed robberies.

Williams, fellow rapper Gunna and 26 other people prosecutors say are associated with YSL were arrested in May on RICO conspiracy charges.

Prosecutors argue that YSL actually stands for Young Stoner Life and is a record label.

Thursday marked Williams’ first public appearance since his initial arrest in May and the day after fellow Atlanta rapper Gunna accepted a plea and was released from jail.

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Williams flashed a smile and waived to his family and friends as he entered the courtroom Thursday.

His lawyer, Brian Steel, was hoping to not only get a bond for his client, but also to argue several motions dealing with evidence and statements made ahead of the trial, which starts Jan. 9.

During Thursday’s hearing, Steel argued that evidence seized in a search of Williams’ home in 2015 during an earlier case should be suppressed because warrants were either invalid or didn’t exist. Police seized marijuana, computers and cellphones during that raid.

Those phones, Steel said, may have information that led to the indictment.

“I challenged the initial entry into Mr. Williams’ home. He is the victim of constitutional rights that have been violated, and the state doesn’t get to go back and do it again,” Steel said.

In a big win for the defendants, Judge Ural Glanville sided with Young Thug, ruling that cellphones and other evidence collected from the rapper’s home during that raid couldn’t be used as evidence in the trial.


Thursday’s hearing came one day after rapper Gunna, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens, was released from jail after pleading guilty to the RICO Act violation charge against him. Channel 2 Action News was outside the jail the moment Gunna walked outside to greet his family.

In a statement, Gunna said that despite taking the plea, he would not be cooperating with the prosecution.

He also claimed that he had not made any statements, had not been interviewed and had not cooperated with prosecutors and has no intention of being involved in the trial.

But plea agreements in which Gunna swore to having direct knowledge of people in YSL committing crimes and participating in gang activity suggest otherwise.

Another co-founder of YSL, Walter Murphy, pled guilty to one count of RICO conspiracy Tuesday and was released from jail on a plea agreement. Murphy and Gunna both agreed to a commuted sentence and to perform 300 hours of community service, a substantial portion of which will require that they speak to young people about the hazards of gangs and gang violence.

Murphy’s lawyer, Jacoby Hudson, said his client will also acknowledge that YSL evolved into a gang. Hudson said that at the time of the indictment, Murphy had left YSL after serving close to six years on charges including a gang charge and four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Since his release, he’s had a steady job and has had no contact with other YSL members.

“I just want the younger kids to know that no matter what you did, whatever you think you’re a part of, you’re bigger than that,” Murphy said.

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