Citing lumbering Young Thug case, Trump co-defendant seeks separate trial

RICO trial involving rapper, others is 8 months in without a single juror seated
Booking shot of Ray Smith at the Fulton County Jail on Aug. 23, 2023. (Fulton County Sheriff's Office)

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

Booking shot of Ray Smith at the Fulton County Jail on Aug. 23, 2023. (Fulton County Sheriff's Office)

One of former President Donald Trump’s codefendants is pointing to the slow-moving Fulton County case involving rapper Young Thug and others in arguing he should be tried separately.

The motion, filed Thursday on behalf of Ray Smith, referenced the ongoing Young Slime Life trial, which entered its eighth month of jury selection Friday.

“The experience learned by this Court in the YSL gang a lesson learned that should inform any Court about the dangers of pursuing a joint trial for over a dozen defendants,” the motion argues.

Smith’s attorney, Don Samuel, is familiar with the YSL case as he and Trump’s lawyer, Steve Sadow, represented Atlanta rapper Gunna (whose real name is Sergio Kitchens), after Kitchens was indicted alongside award-winning rapper Young Thug and 26 alleged associates last year.

Kitchens took a plea deal in December. Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, remains jailed without bond.

Smith, who was granted a $50,000 bond, is facing charges of violating the State’s RICO Act, conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer, conspiracy to commit filing false documents, two counts each of conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree, conspiracy to commit false statements and writings, making false statements and writings and solicitation of violation of oath by public officer.

The YSL trial started shortly after the first of the year. After months of hardships, where potential jurors have explained to the judge why they cannot serve, individual questioning began in July. More than 2,000 potential jurors have been summoned, but not one has been seated.

Former President Donald Trump and 18 allies have all surrendered to the Fulton County Jail on charges of conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia.

Credit: File photos

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Credit: File photos

Smith, Trump and 17 other defendants face charges stemming from efforts to overturn the former president’s 2020 election defeat in Georgia.

A motion filed in that case this week argues Judge Scott McAfee, assigned at random to preside, should sever cases “into manageable groups so the case can be presented in reasonable bite-size segments that a jury will be able to understand and assimilate in a reasonable amount of time.”

Doing so, the motion argues, would reduce the amount of time any jury would need to be empaneled.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has said she planned to try Trump and his codefendants together. The defense motion argues against that.

“The prosecution cannot dictate the length of trial, and the prejudice suffered by the defendants (and the judge, and the jury, and the judicial system in general) simply by overcharging a case and exaggerating the scope of its enterprise,” it says.

Several defendants, including Smith and Trump, have waived arraignment and pleaded not guilty.

Fulton County Chief Judge Ural Glanville listens to arguments for consideration of bond for Atlanta rapper Young Thug. Glanville denied bond for a third time on Friday July 21, 2023. (Natrice Miller/

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Fulton County Chief Judge Ural Glanville is presiding over the YSL case, beset by a series of bizarre delays. One defense attorney was arrested, another had his laptop seized and a courtroom deputy was jailed, accused of having an inappropriate relationship with one of the defendants in the case. There have been instances of drugs being brought into court, law enforcement officers scuffling with defendants and potential jurors being held in contempt.

Meanwhile, Young Thug, arrested in May 2022 and held without bond, recently dropped a new album from jail.

Jury selection was impacted yet again last week as one of the defendants, Cordarius Dorsey, went on trial in an unrelated murder case. Selecting a jury in that trial took just six hours, according to Dorsey’s attorney, Suri Chadha Jimenez. The murder trial is expected to finish next week.

Dorsey is already serving a life sentence for fatal 2019 shooting in DeKalb County.

The YSL case initially involved 28 indicted defendants. Some haven taken plea deals, while others’ cases were severed, and eight are now set to stand trial together. Of the five potential jurors questioned this week, only one was qualified, bringing the number of qualified jurors to 30. Those qualified are being told they will be back in the courtroom in four to six weeks.

Judge Glanville hasn’t said how many jurors he wants to qualify or how many juror strikes each side will get.

“We’ll have that conversation fairly soon,” Glanville said recently.

This week, as he planned next week’s scheduled, he said, “I can’t believe it’s September already.”