Two co-defendants including Atlanta rapper Gunna have entered negotiated guilty pleas ahead of the RICO trial against the alleged Young Slime Life gang scheduled to start next month.
The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office confirmed Walter Murphy entered a guilty plea Tuesday and Gunna, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens, entered a guilty plea Wednesday on a single count of conspiracy to violate the racketeer influenced and corruption organizations (RICO) act each.
According to court documents, Murphy was sentenced to 10 years, with one year commuted to time served and nine years of probation, as part of the negotiated plea.
Kitchens was sentenced to five years, with one year commuted to time served and the rest of the four years of his sentenced suspended and subject to special conditions including 500 hours of community service. He is required to spend 350 hours speaking to young men and women about the hazards and immorality of gangs and gang violence and the decay it causes in the community, his attorney Steve Sadow said.
“My focus of YSL was entertainment - rap artists who wrote and performed music that exaggerated and ‘glorified’ urban life in the Black community,” Kitchens said in a statement. “I love and cherish my association with YSL music, and always will. I look at this as an opportunity to give back to my community and educate young men and women that “gangs” and violence only lead to destruction.”
In a statement released through his attorneys, Kitchens said he had entered an Alford Plea, which is a guilty plea to the one charge against him in the indictment. He said the Alford Plea was in his best interest and allowed him to maintain his innocence.
Sadow said Kitchens’ sentence would be terminated after completion of his community service. He is to have no contact with co-defendants, no guns and, if called by any party during the trial, he reserves the right to assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
“The defense team is extremely pleased that Sergio Kitchens, better known as Gunna, was able to resolve his case on such favorable terms,” Sadow said in a statement. “We know Gunna looks forward to both pursuing his highly successful music career and giving back to the community in which he works and loves.”
Sadow said Kitchens is expected to be released from the Fulton County jail by Wednesday night.
A special condition of probation is that Murphy “testify truthfully in any further trial as it may become necessary re: State of Georgia and the other individuals” named in the indictment. Murphy, along with Atlanta rapper Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, and Gunna were among 28 defendants named in the sweeping gang indictment.
Authorities say Williams and Kitchens are leaders in the gang; attorneys for the rappers have contested the charges for months, arguing in hearings and court filings that YSL is just a record label, not a violent gang.
In a statement, Gunna said he joined YSL in 2016 and did not consider it a gang and more like a common group with “common interests and artistic aspirations.” Gunna said he has no intention of testifying during the trial.
“While I have agreed to always be truthful, I want to make it perfectly clear that I have NOT made any statements, have NOT been interviewed, have NOT cooperated, have NOT agreed to testify or be a witness for or against any party in the case and have absolutely NO intention of being involved in the trial process in any way,” the rapper said in a statement.
Jury selection is scheduled to start Jan. 4. Motions hearings are scheduled for Thursday and Monday.
Prosecutors are expected to call more than 300 witnesses during the trial, which is expected to take six to nine months. Murphy’s lawyer, Jacoby Hudson, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he is not sure if his client will be called up to testify against the other co-defendants but said Murphy is ready to move on.
“My client doesn’t know anything, (during) a lot of the acts they are alleging, he was in prison. My client doesn’t know anything,” Hudson said.
The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office presented the plea deal to Hudson a week or so ago. He said, after discussions with Murphy, they felt it was in his best interest to accept the deal.
“It’s a fair resolution to this case. My client did his time already and he is ready to move on with his life,” Hudson said.
According to the indictment, Murphy allegedly was involved in an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2013 and attempted murder involving four different victims in 2015. During a bond hearing in June, Hudson said Murphy had already faced charges on those incidents and had pleaded guilty or guilty to reduced charges.
Murphy had spent seven years in prison on criminal street gang, aggravated assault and aggravated battery charges from a 2015 case. Murphy was out on parole when he was named in the YSL indictment.
Murphy is alleged to have co-founded YSL gang with Williams and co-defendant Trontavious Stephens in late 2012 in the Cleveland Avenue area, according to the indictment. Murphy has a tattoo with the letters “YSL” on his forehead.
In an interview with Channel 2 Action News, Murphy said YSL was not a gang.
“I would rather say it’s more like a record label or a family,” Murphy said. “Once upon a time I was actually a road manager on that label.”
According to court documents, Murphy is also required to spend 300 hours of community service, with a substantial portion spent talking to young men and women at locations determined by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office about the dangers and immorality of gangs and gang violence.
If Murphy completes all the conditions successfully and has no violations of the law greater than a high and aggravated misdemeanor, his probation will be suspended after five years. According to court documents, Murphy is not allowed any contact with any other co-defendants on the indictment.
Murphy turned himself in June after being named in the indictment, Channel 2 reported. Hudson said Murphy has already been released from jail.
The guilty plea comes days after co-defendant Cordarius Dorsey was sentenced to life in prison for a 2019 DeKalb County murder. Authorities said Dorsey also held a leadership position in YSL.