ATLANTA (AP) — Jury selection has been slow going in the Atlanta racketeering and gang case against rapper Young Thug and others, with many potential jurors trying to get out of serving and alleged attempts to smuggle contraband to defendants also causing delays.
About 600 potential jurors were summoned earlier this month, and after several weeks of the judge and lawyers hearing from those who want to be excused, not a single juror has been seated, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
One defendant's mother was arrested Tuesday, accused of bringing “tobacco products” to her son in a bag of clothes, the newspaper reported. And Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Ural Glanville said last week that someone hid marijuana in shoes brought for a defendant.
On Wednesday, defendant Khalieff Adams handed a Percocet pill to Young Thug, whose given name is Jeffery Lamar Williams, in the courtroom, prosecutors said in a motion filed Thursday.
“Defendant Adams, who is currently serving a life-without-parole sentence for murder, conducted a hand-to-hand drug transaction with Defendant Jeffery Lamar Williams, in open court,” the motion said.
Attorney Teombre Calland, who represents Adams, issued a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution dismissing the allegations.
“These allegations are simply that: mere statements made by the State in an effort to thwart the lengthiness of the jury selection process. Mr. Adams adamantly maintains his innocence and looks forward to the conclusion of this trial,” the statement said.
Keith Adams, an attorney for Young Thug, said the prosecution's motion tries to blame his client for the actions of others.
“The state’s motion is replete with factual inaccuracies, embellishments and attempts to make Mr. Williams responsible for someone else’s actions,” he said in a statement, according to the newspaper. “The end result of an investigation into (Wednesday’s) incident was that Mr. Williams was not engaged in any wrongdoing.”
The trial for Young Thug and 13 others is expected to last six to nine months. The rapper, who prosecutors say is a founder of a criminal street gang called Young Slime Life, faces charges of racketeering conspiracy and participation in criminal street gang activity, as well as drug and gun charges.
Jury selection was paused Wednesday shortly after the alleged contraband handoff.
“The reason for the delay is that we’ve had yet another instance of alleged contraband being introduced to our space. As a result of that and a subsequent investigation, one of our inmates unfortunately had to go to Grady hospital,” Glanville said.
The prosecution motion says that in response to a request from deputies, Young Thug turned over the pain pill. Deputies then searched Khalieff Adams and found Percocet, marijuana, tobacco and other contraband, the motion says.
“Deputies quickly apprehended the detainee and took possession of the contraband, and completed a search to ensure no more contraband was present,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Khalieff Adams was taken to a hospital for treatment after he appeared to have ingested contraband in an effort to conceal further crimes, the motion says. He was back in court Thursday morning, the Journal-Constitution reported.
He is serving life in prison on a 2019 murder conviction and is charged with conspiracy to violate the state anti-racketeering law and attempted murder in the current case.
After the alleged contraband handoff, he faces additional charges of possession of schedule II controlled substances, two counts of willful obstruction of law enforcement officers, possession of marijuana less than an ounce and possession of an alcoholic beverage by an inmate, the newspaper reported.
Young Thug was not charged in the contraband incident.
Two other codefendants also were charged with new offenses. Rodalius Ryan was charged with unauthorized possession of a prohibited item by an inmate, and Damone Blalock was charged with obtain/procure/give inmate prohibited item without authorization, the newspaper reported.