Young Thug surprised by courtroom pill handoff, attorneys say

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

New motion accuses prosecutors of ‘poisoning’ jury pool

Attorneys for Atlanta rapper Young Thug say their client was stunned when a co-defendant walked up and handed him a prescription pain pill in the middle of court last week.

In a motion filed Monday, the musician’s defense attorneys also accused Fulton County prosecutors of misrepresenting what happened Jan. 18. Keith Adams and Brian Steel, who represent the rapper, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, said the state’s explanation of events was full of inaccuracies and places their client “in a bad light in the eyes of the media and the public.”

Such misrepresentations carry a “distinct possibly of poisoning the jury the pool,” they wrote.

The state accuses Williams and co-defendant Kahlieff Adams of conducting a “hand-to-hand” drug exchange in open court.

ExploreFellow defendant handed Young Thug painkiller in court, prosecutors say

Courtroom security footage of the incident appeared to show Adams stand up and walk over to Williams before placing a something in his hand. Prosecutors alleged it was Percocet.

Deputies immediately approached Williams and told him to hand over the alleged contraband, video shows. Kahlieff Adams and two other co-defendants were charged in connection with the incident but Williams was not.

Williams, 31, is set to stand trial alongside 13 alleged gang associates. The Grammy-winning rapper is accused of being the leader of Young Slime Life, an alleged criminal street gang based in southwest Atlanta.

Defense attorneys maintain YSL is just a record label, though several of those charged have had to acknowledge that YSL is a gang under oath in exchange for their plea deals.

ExploreRapper Gunna released from jail after entering guilty plea in gang RICO case

In their motion, Williams’ attorneys said he appeared to be startled by the object being passed to him.

“It is patently clear from the images that there was no communication, solicitation or request from Mr. Williams prior to that,” his attorneys said.

Following the incident, Adams had to be taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. Prosecutors said it appeared he had ingested additional contraband, but another defense attorney accused deputies of using their Tasers on him in a back room.

Because all of the defendants must be present during proceedings, court was suspended for the day before any potential jurors could be questioned.

Last week’s filing by the state accuses Williams of delaying court proceedings. In their latest motion, the rappers’ attorneys said they seek to set the record straight.

“It is absolutely bewildering as to why the state would blatantly misrepresent the reason for the cessation of courtroom activities in its motion when it knew that assertion was inaccurate,” Williams’ attorneys wrote.

They called the state’s motion “frivolous and gratuitous,” and asked that the judge strike it from the record.

ExploreYSL defendant injured during scuffle with deputy, attorney says

On Monday, attorney Angela D’Williams said her client, Rodalius Ryan, was injured by Fulton County deputies during an alleged scuffle before he was transported to the courthouse. D’Williams said her client suffered injuries to his legs, hands and head.

“I will be filing a formal complaint against the (sheriff’s office) because they are agitating my client on purpose and when he gets to court agitated, they act like they don’t know what’s going on,” D’Williams said.

Ryan, while sitting in the back of a patrol vehicle, allegedly spit at a deputy on the driver seat of the vehicle, according to the incident report. D’Williams said her client was dragged out of the vehicle before he had a chance to get out voluntarily, causing him to be injured.

He was charged with a misdemeanor charge simple assault and obstruction of police. Ryan was also charged in relation to last week’s alleged contraband exchange incident.

More than 600 potential jurors were summoned to court at the beginning of the year for the high-profile gang trial. Weeks later, prosecutors and defense attorneys are still working through hardships and haven’t seated anyone.

Most of those who have asked to be excused say they can’t afford to miss work to serve on a jury for six to nine months, which is how long the trial is expected to last.

Jury selection is set to continue Wednesday morning.

Staff writer Jozsef Papp contributed reporting to this story.