Could witness tampering case enter YNW Melly’s murder trial? New prosecutor wants that

A week into the job, the new prosecutor for YNW Melly’s double murder trial wants to bring in evidence that could be key.

Prosecutor Alixandra Buckelew asked Broward Circuit Court Judge John Murphy to allow details about the witness tampering charge to enter the rapper’s murder case. Buckelew took over Melly’s case after prosecutor Kristine Bradley was ousted.

Buckelew, who argued that the alleged witness tampering is “undeniably admissible” evidence of consciousness of guilt, requested that Murphy rule on the motion before a jury is sworn in. Jury selection began on Oct. 18.

Broward Circuit Judge John Murphy presides over a bond hearing for Jamell Demons, better known as rapper YNW Melly on Friday, September 15, 2023. His previous trial ended in a mistrial after the jury was deadlocked and unable to reach a verdict in July 2023. Demons, 24, is accused of killing two fellow rappers and conspiring to make it look like a drive-by shooting in October 2018. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

The 24-page filing delves into the facts of the case before quickly shifting to the witness-tampering investigation into Melly, co-defendant Cortlen Henry and fellow inmate Terrence Mathis. Prosecutors claim that the trio collaborated to keep Mariah Hamilton, Melly’s ex-girlfriend who he frequently referred to as “Riri” or “Rihanna,” away from testifying.

READ MORE: Days before retrial, YNW Melly faces a new charge. Defense says it’s a distraction

In the filing, Buckelew stated that even though Melly wasn’t directly attempting to influence a witness, the evidence could establish that he authorized the attempt, according to the filing.

“The defendant went to great lengths to have others contact Mariah Hamilton for him,” the filing says. “Because he was in jail and had his phone privileges taken away previously by [the Broward Sheriff’s Office] for numerous violations, he utilized fellow gang members to do his dirty work.”

More on the witness tampering case

In September 2023, BSO Detective Danny Polo, a gang expert who testified at Melly’s first trial, was investigating James Howard, a reputed Bloods member held at the Broward jail on racketeering charges in an unrelated case. While monitoring Howard’s recorded phone calls, Polo heard him talking about passing messages to and from Melly, according to court records.

Polo then uncovered hundreds of calls between Howard and Melly’s current girlfriend, manager 100K Track, whose real name is Jameson Francois, and co-defendant Henry, who was out on bond, the filing says.

Further investigation revealed that Melly, Henry and Mathis, an inmate at the Broward jail held on a murder charge, had “developed a sophisticated system to communicate with individuals outside the Broward County jail” using code words and false names, according to court records.

Mathis, who police say is also a member of the Bloods gang, made more than 60 calls to Henry, the filing says. On several occasions, he told Henry to call “Rihanna” and “A$AP Rocky’s baby mama” to make sure she’s still in the “Maybach.” Rihanna, a well-known singer-songwriter, shares two children with rapper A$AP Rocky.

Prosecutors decoded the message to mean that Henry should keep Hamilton away from testifying, according to court records.

Jury selection in Melly’s case is expected to continue through December.