Inside the Courthouse at 6ix9ine’s Sentencing: Long-Lost Father Surfaces and Judge Talks Memes

Tekashi 6ix9ine received a 24-month sentence in his RICO case. Complex was in the courtroom and spoke to the rapper's lawyer and biological father.

Tekashi 6ix9ine sentencing

Image via Getty/Michael Campanella

Tekashi 6ix9ine sentencing

The predictions that Daniel “Tekashi 6ix9ine” would be a free man today turned out to be false. He will be behind bars until the end of 2020.

On Wednesday afternoon, Judge Paul Engelmayer pronounced his sentence in front of a packed room at the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse in downtown Manhattan. The rap star got a 24-month sentence, but has already spent 13 months behind bars, which is time that will count toward his prison term.

Perhaps the most surprising member of the audience in Room 318 was 6ix9ine’s biological father. Daniel Hernandez, 58, had not seen his namesake son since the younger Daniel was 9 years old. He is likewise not in touch with 6ix9ine’s mother, Natividad, or his older brother, Oscar. Hernandez was there, he said, “to see my son.”

“I’m feeling good looking at him,” 6ix9ine’s father told Complex and other press during a break in the proceedings, before the judge pronounced his decision. Did he have a message for his son? “I want to tell him I love him and that I miss him.” 

Hernandez’s presence caused his son to become extremely emotional when it was his turn to speak. 

“My life is so crazy,” said 6ix9ine, who was wearing white Nikes and a blue prison jumpsuit, with his rainbow hair now entirely faded (except for some bleached ends) and four braids wrapped around his head and tied together in the back. “The last time I seen my biological father, I was in third grade. I take one look in the audience and I see my biological father.” He began to choke up.

“We were expecting time served. We thought that he deserved it, with all that he had done,” 6ix9ine’s lawyer Lance Lazzaro tells Complex

Just like he did in his letter to the judge, 6ix9ine took time to enumerate the wrongs Nine Trey had done to him. They were stealing “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said, before adding, “I was aware that the mother of my child was having sexual relations with [co-defendant] Kifano Jordan.” Both Jordan and the woman, Sara Molina, have denied that accusation.

6ix9ine also responded to another last-minute guest at the hearing. A woman identified only as “L.L.” was shot in the foot during a July 16, 2018 incident in Brooklyn that 6ix9ine and Shotti planned. 

L.L. talked emotionally, tearing up throughout, about how the shooting had forever changed her. 

“I just want to say, I have scars on my back, scars on my knee, scars on my foot,” she said. “July 16 was the worst day of my life. I could have lost my leg.”

“I just want him to apologize,” she continued. “I was caught in the crossfire. I’m a regular civilian who got hit. He was the mastermind… I wanted to face him. I want him to know he hurt me.”

“I’m sorry for what happened,” 6ix9ine responded when it was his turn to speak. “I apologize.” He offered to pay for “whatever medical bills you need.”

The rapper also apologized more broadly. “I know there’s no apology good enough” to make up for his actions, he said. As for why he joined the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods and began a year-long spree of violence, he said, “I was more worried about fame and success than my own and others’ well being. I was weak. I was easily influenced.”

But, 6ix9ine said, in his fame, he began to see that people viewed him as an example. He spoke of the “millions of kids who looked up to me,” and how he wanted to use a second chance to inspire them and warn them away from gangs. 

Judge Paul Engelmayer, when pronouncing sentence, announced early on that 6ix9ine would not be receiving his hoped-for outcome of time served (which would have allowed him to walk free on Wednesday). But Engelmayer went out of his way to praise 6ix9ine’s cooperation, calling it “game-changing,” “complete,” and “brave.” 

Engelmayer pointed out, however, that letting the rap star out of prison now “does not come to grips” with his “deadly serious” conduct. The judge then laid out a year of mayhem that 6ix9ine either inspired or participated in—from the November 2017 assault on Trippie Redd at the Gansevoort Hotel to the $50,000 bounty on Nine Trey member Anthony “Harv” Ellison that 6ix9ine offered in July 2018.

Engelmayer took particular care to criticize 6ix9ine’s posting of a video of his crew’s April 3, 2018 robbery in the lobby of a midtown buiding. “That posting is a selfish and completely gratuitous act on your part,” the judge scolded.

“for the record, the judge in this case found the memes funny, too,” Judge Engelmayer told the courtroom

Engelmayer pointed out that, while Nine Trey was involved in criminal activity before 6ix9ine, they only got involved in the rap world because of him. He described 6ix9ine’s relationship with the gang as “symbiotic.” Nine Trey “had no independent interest in going after musicians” before he came on board, the judge said. That, he continued, was “traceable to you. You weren’t satisfied just firing off verbal salvos [at other rappers]. You used Nine Trey’s literal firepower. Thanks to you, for the better part of a year, Nine Trey unleashed its firepower [on rappers.] You are personally responsible for a lot of violence.”

The judge went out of his way to say that he had no problem with 6ix9ine having gang members in his videos or doing songs about gang activity. That, he pointed out, was not illegal, and is done by plenty of artists. But he drew a distinction between that and using a gang as “your personal hit squad.”

“Bruce Springsteen sings about ‘Murder Incorporated,’” he said. “You joined Murder Incorporated.”

Engelmayer took a moment to speak to the people in the courtroom and in the wider world. He said that he had seen much of the commentary on the case and, “for the record, the judge in this case found the memes funny, too.” But, he emphasized, Nine Trey should not be glorified. And he again praised 6ix9ine for getting dangerous people off the streets. 

In a moment that drew laughter from the room, the judge said he recognized that once he’s free, there’s little chance of 6ix9ine rejoining gang life. 

“There is no danger that any gang will want to partner up with you,” he joked. 

He ended by praising 6ix9ine for his cooperation. “There is a great deal to admire about you,” the judge said. “Please know that I wish you very, very well.”

After the hearing, 6ix9ine’s lawyer Lance Lazzaro shared his thoughts.

“We were expecting time served,” he told Complex. “We thought that he deserved it, with all that he had done.” 

The lawyer said he had no plans to appeal the sentence.

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