Three men were given life sentences on Thursday (Friday in Australia) for the 2018 killing of star rapper XXXTentacion, who was shot outside a South Florida motorcycle shop while being robbed of $US50,000 (approx. $75,000).
Michael Boatwright, 28, Dedrick Williams, 26, and Trayvon Newsome, 24, were each convicted last month of first-degree murder and armed robbery by a jury following eight days of deliberations.
Prosecutors had not sought the death penalty, so life in prison was the only sentence that Broward County Circuit Judge Michael Usan could impose for the first-degree murder convictions.
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During the month-long trial, prosecutors linked Boatwright, Williams and Newsome to the June 18, 2018, shooting outside Riva Motorsports in suburban Fort Lauderdale through extensive surveillance video taken inside and outside the store, plus cellphone videos the men took showing themselves flashing fistfuls of $100 bills hours after the slaying.
Prosecutors also had the testimony of a fourth man, Robert Allen, a former friend of the defendants who said he participated in the robbery. He pleaded guilty last year to second-degree murder. His sentence was delayed until the conclusion of the other three defendants’ trial.
Allen’s sentence could be as little as time served – meaning he could soon be released – or as long as life, depending partly on how much weight prosecutors give to his assistance.
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Defense attorneys accused Allen of being a liar who was motivated by his desire to avoid a life sentence. They also said prosecutors and detectives did a poor job on the investigation and didn’t look at other possible suspects, including the Canadian rap star Drake, who had feuded with XXXTentacion online.
XXXTentacion, whose real name was Jahseh Onfroy, had just left Riva Motorsports with a friend when an SUV swerved in front of him and blocked his BMW.
Surveillance video showed two masked gunmen emerging and confronting the 20-year-old singer at the driver’s window, with one shooting him repeatedly. They then grabbed a Louis Vuitton bag containing cash that XXXTentacion had just withdrawn from the bank, got back into the SUV and sped away. The rapper’s friend was not harmed.
Boatwright was identified as the primary shooter and Newsome was accused of being the other gunman. Williams was accused of driving the SUV and Allen of being inside the vehicle.
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