YNW Melly Accused of Planning to Escape From Jail

The incarcerated Florida rapper has been accused of plotting with a second inmate to have one of his lawyers smuggle in handcuff keys, in hopes of escaping.

YNW Melly attends Murda Beatz 25th Birthday + GRAMMY Celebration

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 08: YNW Melly attends Murda Beatz 25th Birthday + GRAMMY Celebration on February 08, 2019 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for 2wenty 2wenty Music)

YNW Melly attends Murda Beatz 25th Birthday + GRAMMY Celebration

A Florida Sheriff’s Office is claiming that the incarcerated rapper YNW Melly teamed with one of his attorneys to plan a jailbreak.

The dramatic accusation was first laid out in a court hearing on Tuesday. Melly has been locked up in Broward County, Florida’s Main Jail facility since February, 2019. He is awaiting trial for the alleged murder of his two crew members and close friends, Christopher “YNW Juvy” Thomas, Jr. and Anthony “YNW Sakchaser” Williams.

The Broward County Sheriff’s General Counsel’s Office followed up with Complex on Thursday, providing a detailed statement laying out their evidence for the alleged plot. In it, they use Melly’s given name, Jamell Demons. 

“On April 11, 2022, Broward Sheriff’s Office received a confidential tip regarding inmates Nicholas Lewis and Jamell Demons, both housed in the same unit at the Main Jail, planning an escape from jail by having Demons’ attorney bring in two handcuff keys to aid in the escape. Additional information provided by the source was that Lewis had a shank and drugs,” the statement reads, in part.

Jail authorities searched Lewis’ cell after the tip, which came from another inmate. They found a six-inch shank, two razor blades, two lighters, and rolling papers. Lewis was also holding Seroquel and Klonopin pills, for which he doesn’t have a prescription. Melly’s cell was searched, but nothing was found except food from the commissary and what an incident report calls “excessive jail-issued clothing.” 

“The confidential source gave us two pieces of information. One of them [about the shank and drugs] turned out to be a hundred percent true,” explained Christian Tsoubanos, Assistant General Counsel for the Broward Sheriff’s Office, in court on Tuesday. “And when they did the search of Demons’ cell, they did not find the handcuff key, but it could have been that there was not an opportunity to bring it into the facility yet.”

John M. Phillips, attorney for YNW Juvy’s mother Leondra Phillips in her civil suit against Melly, shared his thoughts about the situation.

“As an attorney for a victim, we strongly feel any attempts to escape justice point to guilt,” Phillips told Complex. “This matter needs to be fully investigated, including the attorney’s involvement. Certainly, there are times when informants and even government agents are wrong or engaging in misconduct, but we’ve seen so much in this case from rooftop stripper parties across to diamond teeth dentist needs, this is yet another chapter in what needs to just be finished in court.”

The accused jailbreak is not the only trouble Melly has been in during recent months. The  Broward Sheriff’s Office has taken away the rapper’s phone privileges due to repeated violations of the jail’s rules. In particular, the office says that Melly has made over three thousand calls since his arrest to his girlfriend, Erran Barnett, all but 22 of them without the use of his official personal identification number, as required by the jail. 

In addition, one of Melly’s attorneys, Raven Liberty, is accused of giving other people her phone login credentials so that they could make “non-recorded video visitation” calls with the “Murder on My Mind” rapper.

The offenses laid out in the Sheriff’s Office statement continue through this month. On a September 16, 2022 call on a recorded line, Melly is heard telling Barnett, “Hey, I’m supposed to be talking to my lawyer. Whenever they call you, be like, ‘Is this Ms. Liberty? Is this this person? Just be like yup, yup, yup’.”

Melly originally faced the death penalty for the murders of Thomas and Williams, but that was taken off the table this past summer. Prosecutors appealed that decision, and the case is still pending in Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal.  

Shortly after this article was published, YNW Melly’s mother Jamie King responded to news of the accusation in a video posted to her Instagram Stories. 

For more about Melly, listen to the Complex and Spotify podcast Infamous: The Story of YNW Melly.

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