Court documents show as many as 700 witnesses could be called during YSL gang trial

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Hip-hop superstar Young Thug and his co-defendants heard compelling testimony Monday from a lead gang detective.

It’s ahead of opening statements scheduled to begin at the end of this month.

According to court documents, the state could call on as many as 700 witnesses, including some of the top gang experts in the state.

Channel 2′s Michael Seiden was inside the courtroom Monday as the court heard from one who accused YSL of committing numerous violent crimes. He also testified about some of the evidence that he claims proves Young Thug and his codefendants are members of a dangerous criminal street gang.

Atlanta Police gang Detective Mark Belknap, an 18-year veteran, is considered a gang expert.

“Do you have an opinion as to whether or not the organization called Young Slime Life is a criminal street gang?” prosecutor Adriane Love asked Belknap.

“I do,” Belknap said.


Belknap testified that YSL is responsible for committing aggravated assaults, armed robberies and homicides across the city.

Prosecutors allege that Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, is one of the leaders of the criminal street gang, which the state claims is a subset of the national Bloods gang.

Defense attorneys for Williams call those claims false. In fact, they argue that YSL stands for Young Stoner Life -- a successful record label.

But during cross-examination, defense attorneys asked Belknap why he believed Williams and his codefendants were members of YSL.

“Because of their territory on Cleveland Avenue, rather than saying Cleveland Avenue, they will say Bleveland Avenue, replacing the letter “C” with the letter “B” due to their association with sex, money, murder, Bloods,” Belknap said. “They will also use the phrase ‘Blatt that blood.’ Gangs use, ‘blood love’ all the time.”

So far, the judge has qualified at least one of those gang detectives as an expert.