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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — One of the accused gunmen in the shooting death of rapper Young Dolph is asking the court for a potential jury pool that extends outside Shelby County.
Justin Johnson, who’s facing a slew of charges including first-degree murder, was back in court Friday morning, alongside his defense attorney.
Defense attorney Luke Evans is asking for an outside pool of jurors, for several reasons, he told the court. One is the extensive media coverage, including social media, where he says threats have been made.
“There are reactions in the media to this case that say things such as ‘get a rope,’ and a call for his lynching,'” Evans said.
Evans has filed a motion for a change of venue in the case.
Judge Jennifer Mitchell asked the defense what would keep jurors in other jurisdictions from having access to the same media and social media outlets.
“I think the further away we go, the less likely those social media outlets, these stories, are going to be coming up,” Evans replied.
There’s another reason the defense is asking for outside jurors, Evans said, and it centers around just how revered Young Dolph was and still is.
“Someone that is so beloved in this community, it really puts potential jurors in an unfair position,” Evans said.
Assistant District Attorney Paul Hagerman fired back, saying the killing happened in Shelby County, so those right here, should be part of that jury. Hagerman says the defense is trying to dismiss those right here at home.
“Shelby County is the most diverse county in all of Tennessee,” Hagerman said. “We have tried other high-profile cases here.”
The motion is now under consideration, with the judge expected to make a decision in a week.
The decision for the motion to potentially bring in outside jurors is expected to be reached Feb. 9.
Meanwhile the trial for Justin Johnson is scheduled for June 3.