Two more defendants entered guilty pleas on Friday and are expected to be released from jail ahead of next month’s RICO trial against alleged Young Slime Life members.
Atlanta Rapper Slimelife Shawty, whose real name is Wunnie Lee, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act as a first offender. As part of his negotiated plea, Lee was sentenced to 10 years, with one year commuted to time served and nine years of probation.
Co-defendant Martinez Arnold pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the state’s RICO act and participation in criminal street gang activity. Five drug and gun charges were dropped as a result of his plea agreement.
Arnold was sentenced to 12 years, with two years commuted to time served and 10 years of probation. Arnold, who lives in California but has family in Atlanta, is allowed to go back to California. Judge Ural Glanville imposed a curfew for both defendants from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. unless they are working, going to school or a medical emergency arises.
As part of his deal, Arnold will testify “truthfully” if asked to during the trial, but reserves the right to invoke the Fifth Amendment. Unlike others who have pleaded guilty in the case, he was not required to acknowledge that YSL is a gang.
Lee entered an Alford Plea, which allows defendants to maintain their innocence while acknowledging it’s in their best interest to accept a deal. He is expected to be released from jail in the next day or two.
Lee’s attorney Bob Rubin said most of the things his client was accused of doing “in furtherance of this conspiracy” were not criminal.
The negotiated guilty pleas come days after Gunna, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens, and Walter Murphy, an alleged co-founder of YSL, entered guilty pleas of their own. Gunna was sentenced to five years, with one year commuted to time served and the rest of his sentence suspended.
Murphy was given 10 years, with one year commuted to time served and nine years of probation, as part of his negotiated plea.
The four negotiated guilty pleas bring the remaining number of co-defendants to 24, including Atlanta rapper Young Thug. There were 28 defendants named in the original indictment. Prosecutors have argued that YSL is a gang and Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, is one of its leaders and founders. Defense attorneys say it’s just a record label.
With less than a month before the trial is set to begin, at least three defendants told Glanville Thursday that they still don’t have attorneys. Two other attorneys said they were recently appointed or retained. Jury selection is set to start Jan. 4.
During Friday’s hearing, Lee made a series of acknowledgements as part of the deal, including that YSL is a gang and that its members or associates of YSL have committed criminal acts. Lee acknowledged he was remorseful for participating in YSL.
“I think it was critical for him. Sitting in jail for several months is so coercive and degrading and horrible,” Rubin said. “The primary goal we had for him was to get him home and we achieved that today.”
Deputy District Attorney Simone Hylton referenced lyrics from Lee’s “Where you from?” which names YSL and YSL members, as well as social media posts with other co-defendants. Lee and Arnold are not allowed to contact any of the co-defendants named in the indictment.
As part of the plea deal, Lee can also be called to testify during the trial. Rubin his client would tell the truth, if asked to testify, but that it “may or may not help the person asking the questions”.
Glanville told Lee he would suspend his probation early if he completes two years of college and earns a certificate or degree of any kind. The judge said Lee, who is 24 and the father of 2-year-old twin boys, needs to get an education and take care of his family.
“If you are going to be in this business, you need to know how the money works and you need to educate yourself on that,” Glanville told the rapper.
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Credit: Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution